The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) has selected John A. Moran Eye Center Glaucoma and Cataract Division Director Alan S. Crandall, MD, as the first recipient of its Chang Humanitarian Award.
Established and endowed by David and Victoria Chang, the award honors and recognizes outstanding humanitarian work with a focus on cataract blindness and disability. The honor makes Crandall the only physician to receive four humanitarian awards from three major ophthalmology organizations, including the AGS Humanitarian Award; the AAO Humanitarian Award; and the ASCRS Humanitarian Award.
As senior medical director of Moran's Global Outreach Division, Crandall has donated his time and skills to creating sustainable eye care in developing nations around the world for more than 40 years and is revered as a mentor who inspires others while "quietly tackling the most difficult cases in the most challenging of settings," said former ASCRS president, David Chang, MD.
Crandall was selected from a diverse field of 66 nominees, each carefully reviewed by a nominating committee comprised of the Foundation's Board and International Committee and the ASCRS Foundation Board of Directors.
"Alan has dedicated his career to humanitarian service, often in remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world," said ASCRS 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."
Crandall will receive the Chang Humanitarian Award at the 2018 ASCRS-ASOA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 13-16, 2018. Learn more about Crandall and the award here.
How It All Began
Crandall's humanitarian work began in the late 1970s, a few years after Alex Haley's best-selling book, Roots, came out.
"One of my patients, Gladys Richardson, read it and wanted to find out more about her family's history in Africa," said Crandall. "She went to Ghana, and when she came back, she talked to me about the dire need for schools and treatments to help reverse the epidemic of blindness caused by cataracts. So I said, what the heck, let's go over there and see what we can do. We made contact with The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, in central Ghana. We started slowly, with just 10 to 15 cataract surgeries. At the time, that was what they were able to do in a two-or three- day period. As we now do worldwide, we have also trained their doctors by bringing them here to Moran. They are then able to go back to do the work and to train other doctors."
Because of these and other heroic efforts, Crandall points out that the rate of curable blindness has dropped and is now decreasing every year in several third-world countries for the first time in history.
"Every little bit you can do to help can make a big difference in the long run. I really believe that."