Examiner Assistant Editor

Susan Chin said of her herb doctor and longtime family friend, Hen Sen Chin:

“He was a great man and a great Chinese herbalist. His passing is a great loss for the International District and a great loss for his many patients locally, nationally and internationally. Patients would fly in from afar to be treated by him. He was an amazing doctor who cured many patients to whom Western medicine had given only a few more months to live. And if you had no money to pay for the herbs, he would give them to you and you can pay back when and if you can.”

Hen Sen Chin, who practiced herbal medicine at Hen Sen Herbs in the International District and later on Beacon Hill for 53 years, died on Dec. 23, 2006 from complications from a stroke. He was 83 years old.

Born in 1923 in the village of Tai Shan in Canton, China, Chin came to Seattle at age 9 and returned to Taiwan and Hong Kong, graduating from a Hong Kong herb school at age 20. Coming back to Seattle, he operated Hen Sen Herbs on Eighth Avenue South and South King Street since 1950, and then relocated his clinic to its present location on Beacon Avenue South and Stevens Street in 1989, according to his goddaughter and prot»g» May Tom, who continues to operate Hen Sen Herbs.

Tom said she used to visit Chin’s store after school and began learning the skill of herbal medicine from Chin during the mid-‘70s while a student at Franklin High School. She said she observed and learned from Chin: how to diagnose patients, make the remedies by hand, and how to write prescriptions. In 1989, she began working for Chin full time. Chin retired in 2003 at age 80.

“In my mind, Hen Sen truly modeled what it means to be a good doctor,” Susan Chin said. “He was the rare kind of doctor and person who never gave up hope on any person. He was kind and really cared about his patients. Observing him at work, I could feel his mental energy in trying to figure out how to cure the patient. His mind was sharp and he was always thinking. Despite his brilliance, he was very humble and never dwelled on his successes. He came to work every day and did his best in curing any patient that came to through his door.”

Hen Sen is survived by his wife Sui Mai Chin of 39 years, daughters, Betty and Juliana, son-in-laws; Tim Nguyen and Kaz Isogai, and four granddaughters; Christine, Serina, Sienna, and Michelle.


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