Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Victor Chang

Victor Chang was murdered.

He was a heart surgeon.

I think he lived in Sydney.

That's about all I know.

I guess now I shall learn more.

His birthday is 21 November 1936. My birthday is the day after that!

Birthday website time!

He's a Scorpio. I'm sort of that, but not exactly since I'm a cuspy person.

His numerology number is 6.  The family one.

His Chinese name is Chang Yam Him. I think they put their family name first so he was probably called Yam Him.

Tim has a Korean name. It's Kim Ki Woon. The funny thing is all these years he has been pronouncing it wrong. Then last spring he finally went back to Korea to discover his roots. He told them his name and they gave him the right pronunciation. I thought that was funny.

Chang was born in Shanghai China. I'm not sure when he came to Australia. I almost wrote America just now. Why? I don't know. Maybe I'm being ethnocentric.

No, actually I've become Australia-centric. I commented on someone's blog about how the news is being so sensationalist about the swine flu. They wrote back that American news must be as bad as Australian. I laughed because I realized the news I'm reading IS Australian. I get my news from Twitter: ABC and Sky News's accounts.   Outside the news, I'm reading mostly Australian blogs; most of the friends I email everyday are Australian or living in Australia. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are Australian.

I AM trying not to lose touch with America. Well, I'm IN America so I can't lose completely touch with it. And I am making an effort to read more American blogs. This weekend I'll be hanging out with Americans. Oh! And Tim and Jack are American. They count, right? I could also just look in the mirror and see myself. Hello American! How are you doing today?

Back to Chang.

He went to Christian Brothers High School in Lewisham. I think those folks were in the Holocaust book I just finished reading. Lewisham sounds familiar. Is it near Dulwich Hill?

I'm checking Google Maps now.

Yes! I'm right. Google says to get to Lewisham from Dulwich Hill, you just have to walk about fifteen minutes north.

After high school, Chang went to the University of Sydney. He got himself a Bachelor of Science in Medicine. He worked at St. Vincent's Hospital and then went off to England for more training. Why does it seem that so many Australians go off to England to further their education. Is that just my imagination?

I love the top photo on this page of St. Vincent's website. It's looks so Grey's Anatomy or ER.

Chang became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and he also became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. I guess you don't have to be British or American to join either of them. Lord Wiki says American College of Surgeons has four thousand members who are neither American nor Canadian.

Chang got married to a woman named Ann somewhere in all this. Then in 1972, he returned to St. Vincent's Hospital and joined their Cardiac Team. Actually, he joined what's called the cardiothoracic team. What's that? I shall look it up.

Well, Lord Wiki says it's surgery involving the chest; usually lungs and heart. Is there anything else in the chest? Ribs, I guess.

Also on the team was Dr. Harry Windsor. When I say that name in my mind, I can't help doing it with a British accent. But anyway, he was the first guy to do a heart transplant in Australia. That was in 1968.

In the early 1980's the medical folks came out with anti-rejection drugs. These made transplants more successful. Chang worked to get money from politicians and rich folks so a transplant program could be opened at St. Vincent's. The first patient was a young teenager named Fiona Coote. Lord Wiki says she had to have a second transplant in 1986. It seems though that since then she's had a fairly healthy life. Cool! It's nice to know about a positive transplant story. I knew one person who had a transplant. Unfortunately, he didn't end up surviving. But on the positive side, he was very close to death and miserable. The transplant gave him a year of fairly healthy and active living. I'm grateful for that.

Lord Wiki says that between 1984 and 1990, Dr. Chang and his gang performed 197 heart transplants and fourteen heart-lung transplants. Ninety percent of the patients lived past the first year.

Lack of organ donors led Chang into wanting to create an artificial heart. He started working on that, but then someone murdered him.

He died on the 4th of July 1991. I kind of hate the 4th of July because I had a horrible 4th of July weekend last year. Now knowing it's the anniversary weekend of Chang's death, I have even more reason to hate it. But I guess what happened on my weekend is better than being murdered. See, everything bad is not so bad when you compare it to something much worse.

Dr. Chang was murdered by Chinese gangs. They're called Triad organizations. I guess it's like the Mafia?

Besides killing heroic heart surgeons, they also involve themselves in the trade of endangered species. They do other bad bad stuff as well. I hate these people.

Chang wouldn't give them money when they asked. He fought back and they killed him. I know they say when someone demands money, you're supposed to just give it to them. That's good advice. But I think when you're in a situation, you kind of don't think straight. I can picture myself doing what Chang did. I can imagine being angry and really offended. I can imagine fighting back without thinking of the consequences. It's kind of like Steve Irwin pulling the barb out of his chest. Even if he knew you're not supposed to do this, I think it's kind of an instinct. Something is in you and you get it out.

I know folks say we should follow our instincts. But I wonder how many people have died because they've done just that.

Three years after Chang died, Prime Minister Keating launched the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. It's funded partly by the government but also gets funding from private donations. Kerry Packer donated three million dollars. I think it's located at St. Vincent's Hospital.

I'm looking at their website now. And it makes me angry because I'm staring at this Victor Chang guy and wondering why the hell do people murder each other. How can people do something like that? I think ALL murder is bad. And it's really awful when people kill those they love (or used to love) out of passion. But the type of murder that ended Chang's life is the worst to me. It's just senseless murder. I guess that's kind of dumb because it implies that there's actually sensible murder.

It's just....I suppose I do think of some type of murders being worse than others. I mean it would be really bad if Tim and I got in a huge fight, and one of us ended up strangling the other because we were so incredibly angry. But I think it would be so much worse if one of us died because we happened to go to the mall on the day a terrorist decided to blow it up.

The more I think about it, the more I think that book Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People asks a really dumb question. The answer is simple. Bad things happen to good people because bad people make it happen. Yeah, some stuff happens naturally.  But still! When it comes my time to die, I REALLY hope it's from natural causes. An earthquake....a volcano....swine flu.....a hungry shark or crocodile. I don't want to die because of someone else's selfishness, greed, or stupidity. And I don't want anyone I love to die either because of that. Actually, I don't want anyone I love to die period. So, if you're reading this and you know I love you.....if you want to make me happy, you'll have to promise to live forever. Okay? Thanks!

All right. Anyway, I'm done with Lord Wiki for now. I'm going to look at other websites.

This ABC website is actually the first one that introduced to me to Chang in the first place.

It says Chang came to Australia when he was fifteen. Oddly, I typed America again.

He was known for his optimism. The website says when patients worried, he'd say oh, don't you worry about that. Let me worry about it. At first, I thought maybe that's invalidating. But no. I don't think it is. What would be invalidating is for the the doctor to say. There's no need to worry or Don't worry. You're fine. What Chang was saying is that there IS something to worry about, but I'll take care of it. I think that's very sweet.

Wait. I totally went off on a tangent about the murder stuff. I forgot to look at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Oops. I'll look at it now. They say that Chang's parents were Australian born. I guess they went to live in China for some reason and then returned with their teenage son.

The website says that in Australia, 130,000 people die a year from heart muscle disease. It seems we should be worrying more about taking care of our heart than freaking out about pig flu.

They say one in three women die from heart disease while only one in twenty-five die from breast cancer. I really don't know why they have to make these comparisons. It's like charity competition. I remember the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation used to do that. They'd talk about how it's more common than Muscular Dystrophy. In a way though, I could understand them saying that. I did find it annoying that MD was so well publicized and had a huge telethon supporting it while hardly anyone knew what CF was. That's changed now though. Back when I was involved with CF, there were hardly any books published about it. Now I look at Amazon and there are a LOT of them.

Anyway, with breast cancer and heart disease..... I don't think there needs to be competition or anything. I think they're both well-known. And for both of those diseases, I really don't count women who are over eighty. I mean you have to die SOMETIME of SOMETHING--even though I don't want you to. Well, actually I'm in support of anyone dying once they're past eighty. I think I'm just against YOUNG people dying. So I guess my question would be, how many younger woman (under 70) die from breast cancer and heart disease? And how many really young woman die from it (under 50)?

The American Heart Association says that 83% of the Americans who died from heart disease are older than sixty-five.

This website has the chances of getting breast cancer by age. It's pretty scary. By age twenty, it's about 1 in 2000. That's really not too rare. At least, I don't think so. By age thirty, it's 1 out of 229. By age forty, it's 1 out of 68. By age seventy, it's 1 out of 24. The good news with breast cancer is it has a fairly high survival rate. But the younger you are when you get it, the less chance you have of surviving. They say it's because breast cancer for younger woman is more aggressive.

I shall conclude that both breast cancer and heart disease are bad diseases to worry about.

I'm going to try to find more information about Chang himself.

Here's a website.

They say Chang's mom died of cancer when he was twenty-one. This is what inspired him to become a doctor.

This other website says he was twelve when he lost his mother.

I wonder which one is right.

This website sides with the second one, saying Chang's mom died when he was twelve. It also says he spent his childhood in Hong Kong.

The person who murdered Chang is named Chiew Seng Liew. I hope he rots in hell; even though I don't really believe in Hell.

Ah, this is interesting though. This could be a rumor. I don't know. But this website says that the argument was NOT about Chang giving them money. It was about heart-transplant lists. Ah..... Although who would know since Chang is dead; and who'd trust the word of a murderer? I guess there could have been witnesses.

Anyway, it's too bad we live in a world of heart disease, breast cancer, and murderers.

But there ARE good things out there. With that in mind, I leave you with this song.


Andrew said...

Given his age, it does seem odd that he came to Australia at a certain time and was educated.

I am not keen on 4th of July. We were supposed to celebrate the day with an American lass on a train in Vietnam in 2000. Instead we all just died from the heat.

St Vincents in Sydney is a great hospital.

Problem when you comment before reading the whole post. My instinct is that he was of early Australian immigrants.

You nailed the bland statement about ages and deaths and causes.

PS Never seen the music video. It is terrible but such happy music.

Fe said...

LOVE the film clip! Such a chirpy song... makes me want to be a '50's California surf chick.

I remember the mass outpouring of grief here in Sydney (possibly in the whole of Australia) when Victor Chang was murdered.

He was such a pioneer. A WORLD pioneer in his field. SO many people who had been told to go home and die were given long and healthy lives simply because of his years of research and development and technique.

Fiona Coote was a national hero. She was the face of the Victor Chang Foundation and was a marketer's dream. She's quite reclusive now, as an adult, but occasionally appears in national magazines.

As I remember it, Victor Chang was murdered by a triad member who wanted to bribe him to put his family member on the transplant list. Victor Chang would not do it, as the family member did not fit the criteria for a transplant, and would be taking an organ that would otherwise be used by someone with some chance of success.

The triad member, unused to not being able to buy anything with money or threat, killed him.


btw... the boys and I were back in the area of Darlinghurst today where you stayed. We had a lovely chat about the three of you, and about our two nights together. xoxoxo

Dina said...

Andrew: Yeah, I've never liked the 4th of July. I'm not a big fan of fireworks. I guess any holiday that centers on that is boring to me.

I think the video is so terrible that it's good.

Fe: I couldn't stop singing the song last night!!

It's very sad about how he was murdered--the whole entitlement thing can be disgusting.

I'm so happy that you guys thought of us!

We think about you guys too.

We miss everyone.

mscherrylane said...

oh a scorpio and a 6 as wonder I always felt a strange affinity...I still remember when he got murdered. I was so affected I dreamt about it and I'm pretty sure I even cried! The thing is...if you're going to murder someone the worst kind of person to murder is one that can save many lives...I can just hear you saying...yeah "murderers should be more considerate about who they choose to murder!" LOL
actually sometimes when I read through your very very lengthy posts, I forget that you aren't some kooky child genius still in school- you are so cute when you write! :)
p.s I was just asking cos airfares are so dirt cheap at the moment...even I am tempted...

Dina said...


I FEEL young. You know how you feel old? I'm thinking I'm the opposite. I forget I'm an adult. I feel like I'm 12. Maybe I should keep on imagining that because for a 12-year-old, I'd be pretty damn smart!

Thanks for thinking I'm cute.

I think you should buy the plane tickets. We can hang out together!