Health, Science & Technology


Revolutionising Cardiac Care in Malaysia
Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang, a luminary in the field of cardiothoracic surgery, was born on September 7, 1950, in Singapore. His medical journey commenced at Monash University, Melbourne, where he graduated as a medical doctor in 1974. Post-graduation, he served as a medical officer in Hospital Johor Bahru and Kota Tinggi, laying the foundation for a distinguished career.

Trained as a Surgical Registrar in Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Dato’ Dr Yahya pursued postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom, obtaining the FRCS (Glasgow) in 1980. Specialising as a Cardiac Surgeon from 1980 to 1983 at the Brompton Hospital in London, he returned to Malaysia faced with a surge of heart disease patients lacking adequate facilities for surgical intervention.

Pioneering Cardiothoracic Surgery in Malaysia
In the nascent stages of cardiac surgery in Malaysia, Dr Yahya emerged as a trailblazer, prioritising patient care despite limited resources. At General Hospital Kuala Lumpur, with only one operating theatre, he and his team conducted over 1,000 surgeries, addressing coronary heart disease, valvular issues and congenital heart disease.

Dr Yahya's commitment extended beyond surgeries; he recognised the imperative to train more doctors and medical personnel to meet escalating demands. His 25-year tenure at General Hospital Kuala Lumpur and subsequent role as Head of Cardiac Surgery at the National Heart Institute (IJN) witnessed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries and the training of more than 50 Cardiac Surgeons.

In a landmark achievement, Dr Yahya performed Malaysia's first successful Heart Transplant on December 18, 1997. This triumph, alongside numerous other cardiac surgeries, bolstered public confidence in local cardiac procedures.
A group of surgeons performing a surgery

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Transformative Impact and Legacy
Instrumental in establishing cardiac centres at Hospital Kuala Lumpur and IJN, Dr Yahya's efforts transformed the landscape. Starting with three cardiac surgeons in 1984, Malaysia now boasts 57, with continuous training underway.

Pioneering the establishment of the National Heart Institute (IJN), Dr Yahya founded the Clinical Research Unit during his IJN tenure. His leadership as President of the Asian Cardiac Surgical Society (1992-1994) elevated Malaysia as an excellent training centre for cardiac surgery, attracting trainees from Indonesia, Japan, Yemen, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Beyond the Surgery Table
Beyond surgeries, Dr Yahya founded the IJN Foundation, providing financial assistance to financially disadvantaged cardiac patients, scholarships for trainees and supporting research on heart diseases.

Contributing to medical tourism, cardiac surgical services under Dr Yahya's influence attracted patients from neighbouring countries, enhancing Malaysia's position in the realm of cardiac care.

Founded the Malaysian Cardiac Surgical Society in 1992, Dr Yahya's legacy lives on in its active role in regulating standards, credentials and accreditation of cardiac surgical services in Malaysia. His involvement extended to establishing Cardiac Surgery Services in UKM and USM in Kubang Kerian, where he performed the first open-heart surgeries.

Currently serving as the Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Damansara Specialist Hospital, Dr Yahya remains at the forefront. His pivotal roles, including Chairman of the National Transplant Registry and Council Member of the Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons of Asia, culminated in his recent appointment as the Pro-Chancellor of University Technology Malaysia (UTM).

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang revolutionised cardiothoracic surgery and education in Malaysia to international standards. His enduring legacy serves as an inspiration for aspiring medical professionals.


The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.

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