Perhaps David Hung is destined to become a doctor. After all, when he was six, his physician father, Dr. Orlando Hung, would take him and his little brother to the hospital. “He’d find the smallest ‘johnny’ shirt he could find to cover our body and sit us on a table in the OR and let us observe open-heart surgery,” recalls David. “Our jaws would hit the floor and we’d think it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen! Our friends were so jealous.” Now 29, he is in third year at Dalhousie Medical School, while his brother is in first year and their sister is in second.
Orlando was born in Macau and was sent to high school in Hong Kong at the encouragement of a Jesuit priest. After graduating in 1975, he came to Canada to enrol at Saint Mary’s University. He is now an anesthesiologist at the QEII, Medical Director of Research in the Department of Anesthesiology, a Dalhousie professor, and an inventor of drug-delivery systems and medical devices. He married Jeanette, from Porter’s Lake, a career counsellor.
He only wanted us to have two qualities — to be kind and be happy.
David describes his father as “the most positive, thankful, happy person.” The family hosted annual Chinese New Year’s parties but David didn’t identify with that part of his culture, except for attempting Chinese school. “I remember trying to learn the words and the ones I remember are foods; I like to eat.”
He did all he could to not go to medical school. “Growing up I thought I would make skateboard videos for the rest of my life.” When he was 14, his parents agreed to buy him a camera as long as he worked for his father. “My first job was filming medical procedures at the hospital.”
David earned a degree in theatre, and studied film so he could keep it as a passion. He then became a paramedic: “Incredible medicine, but it’s tough on the mind and tough on the body, overworked and underpaid. What’s worse is the cycle of tragedy — once you deal with one, there’s not a lot of time to debrief; you have 20 minutes to clean the truck and get back to work.” Four years was enough, so he then focused on making videos in Los Angeles with a friend, Tyler Ross, including music videos for Kanye West and an Adidas commercial with Kylie Jenner. “It was fun. It’s surreal.”
Volunteer work has always been important — David developed a program for teaching CPR to junior-high and high-school kids; he has helped with theatre variety shows for children with disabilities; in paramedic school he helped with charity fundraising.
David hasn’t decided on his future specialty — possibly emergency medicine or anaesthesia. “School is tough, but you get through it and still have time for life and puppies, significant others, and trips to L.A.” Through it all he keeps his immigrant dad’s advice. “His definition of success is so different from what I think is the traditional Chinese stereotype of success. He only wanted us to have two qualities — to be kind and be happy.”