Dr. Victor Chang Cause of Death: What Really Happened to Victor Chang?

by Manish
Dr. Victor Chang Cause of Death

In the annals of medical history, the name Dr. Victor Chang resonates as a trailblazing cardiac surgeon who left an indelible mark on modern heart transplantation. However, amidst his illustrious career and groundbreaking contributions, tragedy struck on July 4, 1991, when he met a violent and untimely end. This article delves into the details surrounding the cause of Dr. Victor Chang’s death, the events leading up to that fateful day, and the enduring legacy he left behind.


Dr. Victor Chang’s story is one of immense dedication, innovation, and ultimately, tragedy. Born on November 21, 1936, in Shanghai, China, he would go on to become a pioneering figure in the field of cardiac surgery, contributing significantly to heart transplantation and artificial heart valve development. However, on that fateful day in 1991, his life was cut short in a shocking manner.


Chang Yam Him

Date of Birth 21 November 1936
Place of Birth Shanghai, China
Died 4 July 1991
Age at Death Aged 54 years
Place of Death Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Cause of Death Murder (ballistic trauma)
Nationality Chinese and Australian

Dr. Victor Chang Cause of Death

On July 4, 1991, the world was stunned by the news of Dr. Victor Chang’s tragic demise. He was fatally shot twice in the head during a failed extortion attempt in Sydney, Australia. The perpetrators of this heinous act were Chew Seng Liew and Choon Tee Lim, both Malaysian citizens with no prior connection to Dr. Chang.

The ordeal began when Liew and Lim randomly selected Dr. Chang after seeing his success in a magazine. They initiated their sinister plan by ramming their car into Chang’s Mercedes, forcing him to stop. A confrontation ensued, with the assailants demanding money from the renowned surgeon. When Dr. Chang courageously refused, Liew resorted to violence, firing two shots. The first bullet grazed Chang’s face, and the second, fired at point-blank range, entered his temple, passing through his brain.

Despite initial suspicions of Triad involvement, investigators later concluded that this tragic event was the result of a poorly executed amateur extortion attempt. Dr. Victor Chang’s untimely death sent shockwaves through the medical community and the public, serving as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of even the most accomplished individuals to senseless violence.

What Happened to Victor Chang?

The events leading up to Dr. Chang’s death paint a harrowing picture of a failed extortion attempt. Chew Seng Liew and Choon Tee Lim, having selected Dr. Chang at random from a magazine, orchestrated the crime. Their plan involved crashing into Chang’s car to force him to stop. Subsequently, a confrontation unfolded, culminating in Liew’s fatal shooting of the renowned surgeon.

Initially, there were suspicions of Triad involvement due to the brutal nature of the crime. However, as the investigation progressed, it became evident that the perpetrators were driven by personal motives rather than organized crime connections.

In the aftermath of this tragic incident, Chew Seng Liew received a 26-year prison sentence, while Choon Tee Lim, claiming ignorance of the gun used in the crime, received a sentence ranging from 18 to 24 years. Stanley Ng, who had been involved in an earlier extortion attempt, gained immunity for testifying.

Who Was Dr. Victor Chang?

Dr. Victor Chang, born Chang Yam Him, was a Chinese-born Australian cardiac surgeon who left an indelible mark on the field of medicine. After completing his medical studies at the University of Sydney and further training as a surgeon in the UK and the US, he returned to Australia and played a pivotal role in establishing the National Cardiac Transplant Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Renowned for his high success rate in heart transplants and innovative work on artificial heart valves, Dr. Chang received numerous accolades during his career, including being named a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1986. His dedication and contributions to cardiac surgery continue to inspire the medical community.

Dr. Victor Chang Early Life

Dr. Chang’s early life played a significant role in shaping his dedication to medicine. Born in Shanghai to Australian-born Chinese-British parents, he moved to Hong Kong at a young age. Tragedy struck in 1948 when his mother passed away from breast cancer, leaving a profound impact on the 12-year-old Chang. In 1951, he and his younger sister were sent to Sydney, Australia, to live with extended family.

His educational journey led him to Belmore Boys’ High School and Christian Brothers’ High School in Lewisham, where he completed his secondary education. Dr. Chang’s pursuit of knowledge culminated in his graduation in 1962 with a Bachelor of Medical Science with First-Class Honors and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. These formative years laid the foundation for his remarkable career in medicine.

Dr. Victor Chang Career

Dr. Chang’s illustrious career was marked by pioneering contributions to cardiothoracic surgery and groundbreaking advancements in heart transplantation. After completing his medical education, he interned at St Vincent’s Hospital, where he learned under the guidance of cardiac surgeon Mark Shanahan. Further honing his skills in London under British surgeon Aubrey York Mason, he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1966.

Chang’s journey continued in the United States, where he spent two transformative years at the Mayo Clinic, rising to the position of chief resident. Upon his return to St Vincent’s Hospital in 1972, he played a pivotal role in establishing the hospital’s cardiothoracic surgery department.

Collaborating with surgeon Harry Windsor, Dr. Chang advocated for heart transplants, successfully establishing a heart transplant program in 1980. His team achieved notable success, performing over 197 heart transplants and 14 heart–lung transplants between 1984 and 1990, with a remarkable 90% survival rate beyond the first year.

Driven by concerns about organ shortages, Chang led a multidisciplinary team to develop artificial hearts and affordable heart valves. In 1980, he co-founded Pacific Biomedical Enterprises Ltd., contributing to the development of mechanical and tissue heart valves widely used in Asia.

Dr. Victor Chang’s dedication to advancing medical science and fostering international relations earned him the prestigious Companion of the Order of Australia in 1986, a testament to his enduring legacy in the medical community.

Who Killed Dr. Victor Chang?

Dr. Victor Chang’s tragic end came at the hands of a Malaysian citizen named Chiew Seng Liew. In the heart-wrenching incident that unfolded in Sydney on July 4, 1991, Liew, along with his accomplice, engaged in a failed extortion attempt against Dr. Chang. The assailants forced him to stop his car, and after a heated disagreement, Liew shot Dr. Chang twice, leading to his untimely demise.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Australia and remains one of the country’s most notorious crimes, etching a somber chapter in the nation’s history.

Dr. Victor Chang Cause of Death – FAQs

  1. What was the cause of Dr. Victor Chang’s death?

    Dr. Victor Chang was fatally shot twice in the head during a failed extortion attempt in Sydney.

  2. Who were the perpetrators of Dr. Chang’s murder?

    Malaysian citizens Chew Seng Liew and Choon Tee Lim were responsible for Dr. Chang’s murder.

  3. What were the circumstances leading to Dr. Chang’s death?

    The assailants, after randomly selecting Dr. Chang, forced him to stop his car by crashing into it and shot him during a disagreement over money.

  4. What legal consequences did the perpetrators face?

    Chew Seng Liew received a 26-year prison sentence, and Choon Tee Lim received 18 to 24 years for their roles in Dr. Chang’s murder.

  5. What is Dr. Victor Chang’s lasting legacy?

    Dr. Victor Chang’s legacy endures through the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, the Dr. Victor Chang Foundation, and the Dr. Victor Chang Lowy Packer Building at St Vincent’s Hospital.


Dr. Victor Chang’s life was a testament to the pursuit of excellence in the field of cardiac surgery. His tragic and untimely death serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of life, even for those who have achieved remarkable success. Despite the darkness of that fateful day in 1991, Dr. Chang’s legacy continues to shine through his contributions to medicine, leaving an enduring impact on the world of cardiac surgery.

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