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The Intersection of Science, Art, Music & Humanities

Harry Brown, MD, Receives Biosyntrx Humanitarian Award

Sunday, January 14, 2018

We’ve been given the gift of being able to restore sight. It’s important that we use our abilities to their fullest. —Harry Brown, MD

Today's Sunday Morning Stop honors our dear, immortal friend, faithful reader, and fellow science, art, music, humanities, and poetry lover, Harry Brown, MD, FACS. He was chosen to posthumously receive our 2018 Thornton Humanitarian Award for his spirit and relentless passion to restore sight to nearly a half million people around the world through SEE International, the non profit organization that he founded more than 40 years ago.

Dr. Brown often paraphrased the following anonymous quote in talks to potential expedition volunteers:There are those who make things happen, those who help things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say, "What happened?"   

This prestigious award will be presented tomorrow evening, January 15, by the equally passionate, world-renowned, first recipient, Jeffrey Rutgard, MD, to a representative from SEE International at the annual Hawaiian Eye Foundation event at the Hawaiian Eye CME Meeting. 

Dr. Brown passed away on April 16, 2017. He was a passionate man of science and humanities, with exceptional vision and compassion, who dedicated much of his life to restoring sight to those who would otherwise be forced to live in darkness, only because they lacked resources or access to care.


For a lifetime of humanitarian achievement, Dr. Brown has received the International President's Award, Lions International; a tribute by the US House of Representatives; the Honor Award of American Academy of Ophthalmology: Lifetime Achievement Award, Santa Barbara News-Press; Community Service Award, George Washington University Alumni Association; Outstanding Humanitarian Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology; Hampton Roy Medal, World Eye Foundation; Leslie Dana Gold Medal Award, St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired; the Outstanding Achievements in the Prevention of Blindness and Services to Those Who are Blind; and the Paul Harris Award, Rotary International.

Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.  Howard Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator and prominent mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.  

In October 2014, Dr. Brown was also honored with the American College of Surgeons / Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian and Volunteerism Award, given in recognition of those surgeons who have dedicated a substantial portion of their career to ensuring the provision of surgical care to underserved populations without expectation of reimbursement.

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and becomes immortal.  —Albert Pike

Harry, you were a generous class act who is sorely missed by everyone lucky enough to have worked with you over the years. The Haiku below is for you.

Pausing between clouds

the moon rests

in the eyes of its beholders  ―Matsuo Basho


Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess, the Biosyntrx staff and the Hawaiian Eye Foundation founders and boards. 

Harry is in great company. The previous work-of-the-world winners of the Biosyntrx Thornton Humanitarian Award include:

Jeffery Rutgard, MD - 2015

Geoffrey Tabin, MD - 2016

Audrey Talley Rostov, MD - 2017

On January 17, SEE and HEF will co-present a Hawaiian Eye course on manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS) the cataract extraction procedure commonly used on surgical expeditions in developing countries.All certified eye surgeons are welcome to register and attend.