Chinese Australian Dr. Victor Chang, a cardiothoracic surgeon and a pioneer in the field of heart transplantation, was featured as a Google Doodle on what would have been his 87th birthday.
About Chang: Chang was born in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 21 in 1936. According to Google, Chang’s interest in the medical field was born at a young age due to his mother's battle with breast cancer. He studied medicine and surgery at the University of Sydney and eventually became a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. It was there that he notably developed an affordable artificial heart valve, expanding global access to lifesaving procedures.
In 1984, Chang achieved a milestone by performing a successful heart transplant on Fiona Coote, the youngest Australian patient at the time. Coote, who received a second heart transplant two years later, is still Australia’s longest surviving heart transplant recipient.
“Thank you for your extraordinary work and for giving others the gift of life, Dr. Victor Chang,” Google wrote in their description of the doodle.
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Chang’s achievements: Recognized for his impactful contributions, Chang was voted Australian of the Century in 1999 and received the Companion of the Order of Australia in 1986, the country's highest honor.
Driven by a passion for global healthcare improvement, he also founded the Victor Chang Foundation in 1984. The foundation grants support education for Southeast Asian surgeons, bringing them to St. Vincent’s Hospital for advanced cardiac surgery training with a focus on heart transplantation.
Chang’s death and legacy: Tragically, Chang became a victim of a high-profile crime. On July 4, 1991, he was shot and killed in a failed extortion attempt at the age of 55. His death came as a shock to the medical community and the public, and it led to increased security measures for prominent individuals in Australia.
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Despite his death, Chang's legacy endures through his contributions to cardiac surgery and transplantation. He is remembered as a pioneering figure in the history of Australian medicine. The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, established in 1994 and named in his honor, remains dedicated to cardiovascular disease research, striving to develop cures, prevention strategies and diagnostic tools.
“Dad held a strong conviction that true success in life involved sharing one's knowledge and expertise,” Chang’s daughter, Vanessa, told Google. “According to him, the key to enduring success and recognition in your endeavors was to impart knowledge, enabling others to carry on the work in your absence. He firmly believed that there was no benefit in keeping knowledge to oneself.”
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