After many years of Victor Chang’s death, many readers have shown interest in knowing who the wife of the Cardia surgeon was.
Victor Chang was a well-known cardiac surgeon from Australia who helped establish the practice of contemporary heart transplantation there.
His 1991 murder stunned the country and left a legacy of humanitarian and medical innovation.
But who was this extraordinary man’s wife? What was the nature of their family life and how did they meet? We shall examine Ann Simmons, the wife of Victor Chang, in this article.
Who is Victor Chang?
Victor Peter Chang, AC, was a Chinese-born Australian cardiac surgeon and a pioneer of modern heart transplantation in Australia. His murder in 1991 stunned Australia and is considered one of the most notorious in the country’s history. Chang was given a state funeral, and in 1999, he was voted Australian of the Century at the People’s Choice Awards.
After completing his medical studies at the University of Sydney and working at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Chang trained in the United Kingdom and the United States as a surgeon before returning to Australia. At St. Vincent’s Hospital, he helped establish the National Cardiac Transplant Unit, the country’s leading center for heart and lung transplants.
Chang’s team had a high success rate in performing heart transplantations and he pioneered the development of an artificial heart valve. In 1986, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for his “service to international relations between Australia and China and to medical science”.
In 1991, Chang was murdered by two young men in a failed extortion attempt. His legacy includes setting up his own foundation, the Victor Chang Foundation. Additionally, after his death, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute was created, and the Victor Chang Lowy Packer Building at St Vincent’s Hospital was established.
Medical Career of Victor Chang
After completing his medical education, Chang interned at St. Vincent’s Hospital under the tutelage of cardiac surgeon Mark Shanahan, who sent him to London to train with British surgeon Aubrey York Mason.
Chang became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1966 and trained in cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital. In London, he met and married his wife, Ann.
Chang spent two years in the United States at the Mayo Clinic and became chief resident. In 1972, he returned to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1973 and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1975.
At St. Vincent’s Hospital, Chang worked with surgeon Harry Windsor, who had performed Australia’s first heart transplant in 1968. The advent of anti-rejection drugs in 1980 made heart transplants more feasible, and Chang lobbied to raise funds in order to establish a heart transplant program at St. Vincent’s. On April 8, 1984, a team of doctors led by Chang operated on 14-year-old Fiona Coote, who became Australia’s youngest heart transplant patient.
Between 1984 and 1990, Chang’s unit performed over 197 heart transplants and 14 heart-lung transplants. The unit had a high rate of success, with 90% of those receiving transplants from the unit surviving beyond the first year. In 1986, Victor Chang was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) “in recognition of service to international relations between Australia and China and to medical science”.
Concerned about a shortage of organ donors, Chang led the assembly of a team of scientists, engineers, and marketing specialists to develop an artificial heart and manufacture inexpensive heart valves. In 1980, he met Frank Tamru, who acted as a marketing and sales specialist, while he worked for Shiley Laboratories in Singapore.
Together with engineers Richard Martin and Brij Gupta, Chang and Tamru founded Pacific Biomedical Enterprises Ltd., which is headquartered in Singapore and set up facilities to develop mechanical and tissue heart valves, called St. Vincent’s Heart Valves, in Guangzhou and Sydney. The valves were widely used throughout Asia.
Who is the wife of Victor Chang?
Ann Simmons was born in England and worked as a nurse. She met Victor Chang in 1966 when he was the on-call emergency physician at St. Anthony’s Hospital in North Cheam, London, where she went after feeling unwell at a party.
Ann was described by Victor’s colleagues as a “lovely lady” who was “very devoted” to her husband and his work.
She was also involved in charitable causes, such as the Victor Chang Foundation, which was established by Victor in 1986 to raise funds for research and education in cardiovascular diseases.
They had 3 children: Vanessa, Matthew, and Marcus.