Good morning friends, family and all those of you who are here today to celebrate the life of a great man, Victor Chang. Before I begin, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the Chang family for their unfortunate loss. This was a senseless and wasteful murder of such an innocent man.
When I remember Victor, three words come to mind; Compassion, talent and persistence.
Victor Chang, born on the 25 November 1936 in Shanghai, China was a very talented and naturally gifted person. Victor moved to Hong Kong at a young age from his hometown where he attended primary school and completed part of his secondary education. When Victor was only 15 years old he came to here to Australia and finished his secondary education at the Christian Brothers School in Lewisham, Sydney. Even from a young age I recall how Victor was always receiving awards for his academic achievements. He constantly excelled at whatever was put forth in front of him.
After securing his leaving certificate Victor had chosen a course in medicine. This decision was greatly influenced by the tragic passing of his beloved mother from cancer. He was destined to save lives. Victor started his degree in medicine at the University of Sydney in 1956 where he studied undeterred and focussed soley on building his career. Victor never lost sight of his goal and in 1962 he completed his course and was now known as Dr. Victor Chang. Victor commenced work at the St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney where he took a real interest in cardiothoracic (heart and chest) surgery. This area of medicine was, and is still today, one of the most complex to perform. I guess this is why Victor was so suited to it – being a complex thinker he was more than qualified in every aspect to meet the challenge.
Later on in his career, it was evident that most of dynamic cardiothoracic research was taking place overseas. Persistent in always increasing his expertise, Victor moved to the UK in 1965 where he undertook his training and met his wife, Anne. After 5 years of intense work Victor again moved overseas, to the USA in 1970, where once again he sought after more education. One year later Victor moved back to Australia where his career in heart surgery was to reach great heights.
One of the peek moments in Victors career was when he had performed the first heart transplant to a young girl, Fiona Coote. The operation was a complete success and gained the media attention and awareness Victor was so desperately needed. “Dr Chang was not only my doctor but my friend” - was the statement she had made. This was so true for every patient Victor touched. The courage and determination he had shown was immeasurable.
Throughout his life long career Victor had performed over 197 Heart transplants and 14 lung transplants giving hope and new life to men, women and children all around the world who otherwise would be faced with certain death. With an average survival rate of 85 percent, Victor had blitzed all expectation.
No matter whom you talk to about Victor it is only words of praise and acclamation you will ever hear. He was a respected and loved by everyone around him, personally and professionally. He treated patients with respect and dignity. They were his friends who took confidence in his warm and sincere character. Saving lives was victor’s mission, a mission he took on and completed successfully. The impact that Victor has made in medicine will continue to be felt for many years to come.
I feel so lucky I have had the gift of knowing Victor. He was a gift from God and will always be remembered by all as the compassionate Dr. Victor Chang