Nanci Yuan, Stanford pediatrician, dies at 47

An admired pediatric doctor and clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Nanci Yuan, died this month of colon cancer at 47.

Yuan devoted herself to treating children with severe forms of inherited muscle dysfunction and sleep disorders and is recognized numerous for other accomplishments.

She was responsible for building the Pediatric Sleep Center at Lucile Packard’s Children’s Hospital Stanford into a nationally recognized program, which now provides diagnostic and therapeutic care to nearly 2,000 children each year, according to hospital officials.

She started a home ventilator program that allows young people with chronic respiratory failure to get life-sustaining breathing treatment at home so they can spend more time with their families.

She also helped write the standards of care for children with severe congenital muscle disease.

Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics Dr. Richard Moss said in a statement:

“She provided incredible service to patients and families. … Nanci was fantastic about going from A to Z, everything from the initial evaluation to finding the best treatment for a patient.”

Chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine Dr. David Cornfield said in a statement:

“Nanci was completely comfortable advocating for her patients, and she did so with great courage and integrity.”

Yuan was born in December 1968 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved with her family to the Bay Area. She grew up in Daly City and earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of California at Berkeley before going to medical school at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

After graduation, she completed a residency in pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland followed by a fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

She held board certifications in pediatrics, pediatric pulmonary, sleep and pediatric sleep medicine, according to hospital officials.

Moss hired Yuan in 2003 when she set out to build a program focused on the respiratory aspects of neuromuscular disease and sleep medicine.

She developed deep concerns for children with spinal muscular atrophy type 1, a rare disease that usually kills children when they are young.

Doctor and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics MyMy Buu trained under Yuan and later became a colleague. She said in a statement:

“Nanci was so dedicated to her patients that, to some families, she was like a second mother.”

Yuan met and married Ricky Chang after she moved to Northern California and the two had twins together. Neo and Claire are 9.

Yuan grew up steeped in Chinese culture and language and she and Ricky created a home that allows their children to be comfortable in their American and Chinese heritage, hospital officials said.

Yuan is survived by her husband and children and her parents George and Bernice Yuan and sister Margarida.

A Catholic funeral Mass will be held in Yuan’s honor at 10 a.m. on Saturday at St. Denis Church at 2250 Avy Ave. in Menlo Park.

A celebration of Yuan’s life will be held at noon at the Frances Arrillaga Alumni Center at 326 Galvez St. in Stanford.

A eulogy will be given at 1 p.m. with refreshments and lunch afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, Yuan requested that donations be made to a family trust for her children at http://gofund.me/nanciyuan.