A respected heart surgeon who was hit in the head outside the Box Hill hospital after a dispute about smoking has died after his life support system was switched off.
Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann died in The Alfred hospital last night.
His family say they are devastated by his death.
"We are grateful for the compassion and support we have received from friends, colleagues and the broader community over recent weeks," they said.
"During this difficult time we ask that we are given the space and privacy we need."
Mill Park man Joseph Esmaili was charged after allegedly punching Pritzwald-Stegmann in the head in the foyer of the Box Hill hospital on Tuesday May 30, the Herald Sun reports.
It is understood tempers flared after Pritzwald-Stegmann asked Esmaili to stop smoking near the hospital entrance.
Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, fell to the ground after being struck and was originally treated at Box Hill Hospital before being taken to The Alfred.
The father of twin girls graduated from New Zealand's University of Otago in 2002, and became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2013, specialising in heart surgery.
He had been due to start a new role at St Vincent's Hospital.
Eastern Health chief executive David Plunkett paid tribute to the beloved surgeon this morning.
"Patrick was a passionate patient advocate, a generous teacher and had particular skill in thoracic surgery. His work was truly outstanding and his commitment and dedication will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and patients," Plunkett said.
"Patrick not only leaves a lasting legacy as a surgeon but as a decent and genuine human being dedicated to the well-being of others.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Patrick's family at this time of unbearable loss. We will continue to offer them whatever support they need. We would also like to thank our staff and colleagues at The Alfred for the care provided to Patrick.
"Patrick's family has requested privacy at this time."
Esmaili, 22, has been charged with intentionally causing serious injury and is to return to court in August.
At her client's court appearance on June 1 Esmaili's lawyer told the court he was suffering drug withdrawal and a number of "psychiatric illnesses".
Victoria Police this morning said investigators would wait for the results of a post-mortem examination before reviewing charges.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said this morning the health system and community were the better for Pritzwald-Stegmann's contribution.
After Pritzwald-Stegmann was punched, Hennessy doubled the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to $40 million to allow hospitals to introduce new safety measures. Hennessy said that more security guards would be posted at all Victorian hospitals that have emergency departments.
- By Ryan Tennison - Herald Sun