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Vale Dr Michael Yung

December 13, 2023

It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden and unexpected death of our colleague Dr Michael Yung.

Michael trained in Paediatric Intensive Care at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne in the early 1990s, subsequently working in Kenya as a paediatrician intensivist and the UK before returning to Australia. For the past 25 years, he worked as an intensivist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, where he was Director of the PICU until a few years ago.

Over the course of his career, Michael made an enormous contribution to our specialty. He was a rigorous and incisive clinical researcher, exploring multiple common PICU problems and therapies. Such was the quality of his work that a randomised controlled trial that he performed 25 years ago still influences treatment of acute asthma in critically ill children today. His comprehensive and careful reading of the PICU literature informed his practice; he exemplified the role of the academic clinician, continuously distilling and interpreting evidence to improve care. He had recently been studying a Masters in Biostatistics, reminding his colleagues that it was important to “not just exercise the body but to continue to exercise the mind”.

Michael was a tireless advocate for critically unwell children and their families, and campaigned actively for facilities and expansion of services to deliver world-class intensive care to children in SA and beyond. His vision and perspective on what paediatric intensive care should be was always manifest in the multiple roles that he held within ANZICS. He was Chair of the ANZICS Paediatric Studies Group for five years, oversaw local data collection for the ANZPIC Registry for two decades and was a member of the ANZPIC Registry Clinical Advisory Committee since its inception in 2014. His ability to articulate his unique perspective and insights, together with his playful and quick wit, meant that he was always a joy to listen to whenever he spoke at an ANZICS meeting.

A hugely respected clinician and teacher, Michael’s intelligence and careful thought made an impression on all with whom he came into contact. He was a wise, fair and highly valued examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine’s Second Part Paediatric Exam. Michael was always warm and kind to candidates, fellow examiners, and College staff alike and he will be remembered for generously giving his time to the CICM Paediatric Exam. Additionally, he inspired and influenced a generation of PICU trainees and colleagues, and will long be remembered for his humility, his gentleness, and his sense of humour.

Michael was devoted to his family and a wonderful father to his sons, Ronan and Conor. Michael and his wife, Kathryn, a health policy researcher at Flinders University, were both passionate about Indigenous health. After Kathryn died tragically 3 years ago, Michael started the Kathryn Browne-Yung Scholarship Fund to establish an ongoing annual scholarship for first year Aboriginal medical students to enable them to concentrate on their studies. The first scholarship was awarded this year, with the Foundation largely self-sustainable due to Michael’s tireless work.

Those of us who were lucky enough to know Michael have lost a humble, kind and generous friend. His too early death leaves a vast hole in the lives of all who knew him and deprives many children and families of his care and expertise.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.

This tribute was written by Michael’s colleagues from across Australia and New Zealand.





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