This week I had a chance to speak with Dr David Chong, a brilliant paediatric plastic surgeon at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. David also works tirelessly in the charity space, including with Operation Smile and the Mercy Ships organisation.
David commenced his training in Perth then went to North America for three years to further his experience. Over time he’s become a expert in Cleft Lip and Palate plus Craniofacial Surgery, bringing not only his skill but a real care for his patients that’s unique and touching and one I’ve been following for a number of years.
I was particularly keen to talk to David about the incredible work he’s been doing with the Mercy Ships. David regularly volunteers his time and expertise on the Mercy Ships, an organisation that brings life saving medical assistance to developing countries irrespective of their socio-economic status. David’s schedule takes him abroad regularly, so I was grateful to meet up, and was surprised to discover just how much time he dedicates to helping the world’s poor, why it’s a priority for him, what led him to do the work he does today, both at home and abroad.
I loved hearing more about the people making a difference on the Mercy Ships. It’s such a tactical, progressive model to bring medical care to the world’s poorest. Because over fifty percent of the world’s population lives within 160km of the coast, the charity is able to sail a modern hospital ship with a crew of 400 volunteers directly to people who lack access to first-rate medical care.
What struck me the most about our conversation was David’s humility and joy for life. He talked about his upbringing and the challenges he experienced growing up in Perth like the casual racism that was a part of his childhood. David feels he has a lot in common with his patients and says children shouldn’t be judged by what they look like but who they are . So part of his mission is to do what he can, having chosen the profession he has, is to assist as many children as possible who come to him for help. His is a beautiful life.
“Why do we assume so much from the way someone looks? And the ability to restore harmony to the face with its resultant effect on the way that life is lived seemed an amazing gift to be able to give.”
David has specialised in craniofacial surgery and seeing the before and after photos of patients on his Instagram feed is pretty awesome. Smiles beaming, and usually a story included, about how the surgery has been a game changer for the patient, and a blessing for David. He believes the work he does has given him the opportunity to be invited into an individual and family’s life forever. The stories are always heartwarming, and at a time when there seems to be so much bad news in the world, they are joy to follow.
We talk about the value of doing what you love, life changing mentors and the miracles he experiences in his everyday life. It was so brilliant to sit down and find out more about what makes David tick, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital
Dr Gary Parker
Dr Fiona Wood
Gordon Baron Hay – paediatric surgeon
Mark Edwards – cardiac surgeon
Robert Larbelestier – cardiac surgeon