Hing and Doris Hung donated $5 million to Long Beach Medical Center to help fund a new hybrid operating room. Courtesy of Long Beach Medical Center

After being forced to work on a labor farm amid the Cultural Revolution, Hing Hung escaped Communist China in 1974. He made his way to the U.S., where he would graduate from college, meet his wife and co-found a successful business in Long Beach.

Hung’s road to the American dream gave him a “pay it forward” mentality—a mentality that led to a $5 million donation toward a hybrid operating room at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

“The Hungs are shining examples of what can happen when courage, hard work and love are met with freedom and opportunity,” Long Beach Medical Center Foundation President Rob Gunsalus said in an email to the Business Journal. “Mr. Hung’s story in particular is better than anything Hollywood could produce.”

The hefty donation to the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute helped fund a new hybrid cardiovascular operating suite that features advanced technology and combines the diagnostic capabilities of a catheterization lab with the surgical functionality of an operating room, according to the hospital.

Born in Communist China in the early 1950s, Hung was forced to work on a labor farm in his teens. At 22, he managed to sneak away with others using a boat destined for Macau.

“Patrolmen spotted us though, and we had to gut the boat and swim around the channel through the night. We knew if we got caught, we’d be sent back to the farm,” Hing recalled. “I didn’t have time to be scared, I just swam.”

Hung made it to Macau and was eventually sponsored to receive an immigrant visa to the U.S. He met his wife, Doris, in 1978 while they were both attending Cal Poly Pomona, where he studied electrical engineering.

In 1992, Hung co-founded Mercury Security Corp., which created the technology behind badge readers at door entries. The business was sold in 2013 but remains located in Long Beach near Signal Hill. Hung remained active with the company until 2020.

The Hung’s personal connection to Long Beach Medical Center dates back almost two decades. In 2005, Doris was diagnosed with breast cancer and received care at the Long Beach hospital. Today, she is cancer free.

Hing’s mother battled ovarian cancer and received care at Memorial as well.

The recent donation is not the Hungs’ first to the hospital. Past gifts helped build the Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village, which opened last year, a consultation room at the Todd Cancer Institute and renovations to the catheterization laboratory at the heart institute.

“Hing and Doris truly care about ensuring our hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will help patients for decades to come,” Marc Sakwa, medical director of adult cardiovascular surgery and the institute said in a statement. “The heart of our [institute] beats strong because of donors like them.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Business Journal.