C. Downey Price, MD 2005 AAO Humanitarian Award
Dr. Price’s passion for medical missions began with a request from a missionary in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The country had a desperate need for medical and surgical eye care, and Dr. Price responded.
Between 1974 and 1986, he led 17 medical mission teams to Leogane, Haiti, providing pro bono medical and surgical eye care. Dr. Price helped raise funds and was able to fully equip an operating room, an eye clinic and staff quarters at Hospital Sainte Croix. Over the years, many Houston Ophthalmological Society members have contributed free sight-saving care during these missions (see box below), and many HOS members have also contributed funds to support the work.
In 1986, at the request of the Ministry of Health and the Methodist Church of Belize, Dr. Price and the Reverend B.T. Williamson started an eye care program. With the help of donations from churches and the private sector, Dr. Price and others were able to build the first free standing eye clinic in Belize and later a new fully equipped surgery center in the northern city of Corozal. Since 1986, two to four medical mission eye teams travel to Belize each year to provide free eye care.
In 1987, at the invitation of the Andean Rural Health, Dr. Price initiated medical eye teams, first to Carabuco on Lake Titicaca, and later to Cochabamba in Bolivia in the Andes Mountains. Dr. Price led medical teams, which provided eye care to the Aymara and Quechua Indians. With the help of churches and the private sector, he was able to build and equip an eye clinic, outpatient surgery center and an optical lab.
In 1991 in El Salvador, Dr. Price and Rev. Williamson began an eye program. Funds were raised and a two story medical/surgical building was built in El Salvador, equipped to provide eye care for the underserved. Later, an optical lab was added and Dr. Price started annual medical mission trips to that country.
In 1992, Dr. Price and Rev. Williamson formed and incorporated Benevolent Missions International (BMI), a non- profit organization dedicated to providing pro bono medical and surgical eye care to underserved areas of the world. Dr. Price, along with others, accomplished their mission through BMI by recruiting health care professionals and lay personnel, providing cost free health care services and furnishing essential equipment and supplies. Since the formation of BMI, Dr. Price has been instrumental in leading medical and surgical eye mission teams to Burundi, Central Africa, Costa Rica, Central America, Fiji and American Samoa.
Dr. Price credits his devoted wife, Edna, who provides her support, as well as her administrative services in helping raise funds and recruit volunteers for these missions.
HOS is particularly proud to recognize those members who have traveled at their own expense to volunteer with BMI missions
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