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Honoring Harry Brown, MD, FACS, 1930 - 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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    

It is with the saddest of hearts that we honor our dear friend, Harry Brown, MD, who passed away on April 16, 2017. He was a passionate man of science 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.

Harry Brown was chosen by the Biosyntrx board last month to receive our Thornton Humanitarian Award to be presented at the annual Hawaiian Eye Foundation event at the Hawaiian Eye Meeting on January 15, 2018. His posthumous award will be presented at this event to SEE International, the nonprofit organization he founded more than 40 years ago.  

Thanks to Harry's humanitarian spirit and relentless passion, SEE International, which stands for Surgical Eye Expeditions, has restored sight to nearly a half million people around the world and changed the lives of countless family members, friends, and other caretakers.

"After Brown graduated from the University of Missouri, he served as a line officer in the US Navy before entering George Washington University Medical School, graduating in 1959. Dr. Brown interned at the US Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, CA, and went on to complete the residency program at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA," reported the SEE website.

"He then embarked on a year-long whirlwind trip around the world with his wife, four children and mother, working as a visiting ophthalmologist in Johannesburg, South Africa; North Gujarat, India; and Kabul, Afghanistan. It was on this journey that Dr. Brown realized how badly the developing world needed an organization of volunteer doctors to perform free sight-restoring surgeries for people who lacked resources or access to quality care. He subsequently moved to Santa Barbara in 1971, where he founded SEE and began a private practice.

"Dr. Brown and his colleagues developed an efficient mobile eye surgery system of intensive, short-term surgical clinics for remote, medically underserved populations worldwide, in order to address their lack of access to trained clinical eye care.

"For a lifetime of humanitarian achievement, Dr. Brown has received the International President Award, Lions International; a tribute by the US House of Representatives; the Honor Award, 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.

"In October 2014, Dr. Brown was 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 commensurate reimbursement.'"

Harry, you were a class act who will be truly missed by everyone lucky enough to have worked with you over the years. 


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