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Biographical entry Soong, Chee Voon (1961 - 2009)

FRCS 2007; MB BCh Belfast 1985; MD.

7 June 1961
Ipoh, Malaya
10 August 2009
Vascular surgeon


Chee Voon Soong was a leading vascular surgeon in Belfast and pioneer of endograft placement for ruptured aortic aneurysm. He was born in Ipoh, Malaya, on 7 June 1961, the son of two teachers. He was sent to the Methodist College, Belfast, for his early education, from which he went on to the Queen's University to study medicine.

After house jobs at Belfast City Hospital, he entered the Northern Ireland surgical rotation, completing an MD thesis on the cytokine response to revascularisation in the colon and lower limb under Brian Rowlands. For a year he joined the surgical staff of the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, but returned in 1997 to Nottingham, to work with Brian Hopkinson on endovascular repair of aortic aneurysms.

He was appointed as a consultant vascular surgeon to Belfast City Hospital, where he helped to set up an endovascular aneurysm service and led the team using thoracic endografts and thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair. He organised a series of international study days on endovascular repair of ruptured aneurysm, which attracted participants from all over the world. At the same time within the hospital he initiated multidisciplinary rounds for amputees and set up research projects into their subsequent rehabilitation. His work on endovenous therapy for varicose veins led to the establishment of a service for this form of treatment in Northern Ireland, which was carefully audited. Soong published extensively and contributed chapters to authoritative textbooks such as Andrew Kingsnorth and Alijafri Majid's Fundamentals of surgical practice (London, Greenwich Medical Media, 2003). He continued to carry out research into screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, diabetic neuropathy, atherosclerotic disease and the use of growth factors in critical limb ischaemia, the first trial of gene therapy to be carried out in Northern Ireland. Following the retirement of his mentor A A Barros D'Sa, he represented the region on the Joint Vascular Research Group. He was an active and popular teacher, supervised eight MD theses, and combined all this with an active NHS appointment, in spite of, towards the end, his deteriorating health.

Whilst a student at the Methodist College, he met Eng Wooi Chew, also from Ipoh, and both went on to medical school together. They were married in 1989 and had two sons, Chin Mun, who is a medical student, and Chin Nam. Eng Wooi remains as a consultant interventional cardiologist at Belfast City Hospital.

In 2005, he was found to have a nasopharyngeal carcinoma and underwent repeated courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, without remission. Despite this he remained as active as ever. He died on 10 August 2009.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Bernard Lee, Ray Hannon and Averil Mansfield].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England