Endowed by a generous gift from David and Victoria Chang, the ASCRS Foundation Chang Humanitarian Award has been established to honor and recognize outstanding humanitarian work with a focus on cataract blindness and disability. Alan Crandall, MD, embodies this purpose with his extensive humanitarian work both in the U.S. and abroad. The award will be given to Dr. Crandall at the 2018 ASCRS•ASOA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
Dr. Crandall was one of 66 nominees submitted for the inaugural award. After nominators completed a detailed submission form, the ASCRS Foundation Nominating Committee spent countless hours reviewing the nominations and supporting documents. The field of nominees was richly diverse and deserving of recognition. The Nominating Committee sent a handful of finalists to the ASCRS Foundation Board of Directors, who further reviewed the nominations and selected the ultimate winner.
“Alan has dedicated his career to humanitarian service, often in remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world,” said board member Douglas Koch, MD, “and his loving, generous spirit permeates all that he does, whether it be with patients, colleagues, students, friends, or family.”
Dr. Crandall started his outreach work in Kumasi, Ghana in response to a request for help from a patient. With that first trip, he unofficially launched the John A. Moran Eye Center's Global Outreach Program. At first, Dr. Crandall's endeavors involved performing surgery himself and providing procedures not otherwise available in West Africa. Next came his dedication and persistence, training local surgeons to begin providing quality care and increasing the number of patients receiving treatment. In 2012, Dr. Crandall helped arrange funding for the construction of the Eye Center at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Staffed with experienced surgeons, it is the only dedicated eye hospital in the region and impacts eyecare in all of West Africa.
The list of places where Dr. Crandall has donated his time and skills is long: Ghana, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal, India, China, Guatemala, Egypt, Micronesia, Tonga, Rwanda, Haiti, and Cuba, as well as domestic efforts in Utah. The nature of these outreach efforts are as varied as the list itself. In Guatemala, Dr. Crandall performed hundreds of surgeries and trained the country's only ophthalmologist. In remote locations like Micronesia and South Sudan, the main objective was to perform as many vision-restoring procedures as possible. In 2013, he turned his attention to those in need in the U.S. Dr. Crandall helped develop the Navajo initiative, which regularly provides cataract and retinal surgery, postoperative care, comprehensive vision screenings, and custom eyeglasses to the Navajo Nation.
“If you aspire to be the best physician possible, and the best human being possible, you need look no further for a role model than Alan Crandall,” said nominating committee member I. Howard Fine, MD.
As if his extensive humanitarian work was not proof enough, Dr. Crandall insists that every outreach trip include a physician training component. He enthusiastically shares his knowledge and experience with all, but specifically with local physicians in the resource strapped areas he visits. He thinks mentoring inexperienced surgeons is the key to ending global blindness and shares his skills in adult and pediatric cataract surgery, adult and pediatric glaucoma surgery, and all manner of intraocular lens related issues.
As of this writing, Dr. Crandall was on an international humanitarian eyecare trip but communicated the following about being named the inaugural winner: “First I was shocked, then I felt honored and joy that our [Moran Global Outreach Division, ASCRS Foundation, Himalayan Cataract Project, the Aravind Hospitals] passion to reduce curable blindness in the world is making a difference. [I feel] deep humility that I was chosen, and I will continue to work for that goal. We should remember that we are all brothers and treat all with compassion and love.”
After Dr. Crandall was selected by the ASCRS Foundation Board of Directors to receive the Chang Humanitarian Award, Dr. Chang issued this statement: “It is very fitting that the Foundation Board selected Alan to be the inaugural recipient of this award. He embodies the compassion that we should all emulate, and his career has been defined by teaching, mentoring, and inspiring so many others while quietly tackling the most difficult cases in the most challenging of settings.”
To celebrate Dr. Crandall’s commitment to making the world a better place through humanitarian eyecare and to learn more about his inspiring efforts, register for the 2018 ASCRS•ASOA Annual Meeting, and don’t miss the Opening General Session.
About the Chang Humanitarian Award
For more than 15 years, the ASCRS Foundation has fostered programs to alleviate the worldwide backlog of cataract blindness and has even worked in partnership with Dr. Crandall’s efforts through the Moran Eye Institute. These efforts extend not only internationally but in the U.S. as well. The Foundation’s work is only possible because of the many individuals and partner organizations who volunteer their time, expertise, and financial support to treat cataract blindness around the world.
“David and Victoria’s generosity and leadership is deeply appreciated because it allows us to highlight and perpetuate the noble volunteer efforts of our colleagues within ophthalmology who are trying to alleviate treatable global blindness,” said Stephen Lane, MD, co-chair of the ASCRS Foundation.
The award will be made each year at the ASCRS•ASOA Annual Meeting, and a $50,000 prize will be granted in recipient’s honor to a charitable ophthalmology organization of his or her choice. Dr. and Mrs. Chang hope the $50,000 grant will not only help fund the great work being done now but allow the honoree to publicly highlight a deserving charitable organization before ASCRS’ vast international audience.
“As the world’s population ages, the backlog of cataract blindness in developing countries will continue to climb,” Dr. Chang said. “There are proven, cost-effective solutions that need to be scaled and many dedicated individuals and organizations that merit our collective support.”
To learn more about the award, visit: www.ascrsfoundation.org/changaward