The Academy is privileged to honor Baxter F. McLendon, MD, FACS with the 2023 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.
Dr. McLendon was nominated by Larry Schwab, MD, for his dedication to provide quality eye care to vulnerable populations in low resource settings for more than four decades. Through the years, Dr. McLendon has worked in Tanzania, Malawi, the Caribbean, China, Ghana, Liberia, Grenada, Guatemala, Peru, Jerusalem and Belize.
Dr. McLendon spent two years with the U.S. Public Health Service caring for patients with Hanson’s disease at the National Leprosarium at Carville, La., which set him on a path of international and domestic volunteer service. He has made a positive impact around the globe providing much-needed eye care to under-resourced communities, including serving Native American Inuit people living in isolated villages on the Labrador coast in Canada and working as an ophthalmic surgeon and lecturer in Moshi, Tanzania.
In the 1980s while on the staff of the International Eye Foundation (IEF), Dr. McLendon was assigned to Malawi, where he was the only ophthalmologist at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre serving a population of 4 million. He was also project director of IEF’s USAID-funded Child Survival/Vitamin A Distribution Program, trained ophthalmology residency residents in Grenada, and served as program director of IEF’s Onchocerciasis/Ivermectin Distribution Project. He is the recipient of IEF’s Promotion of Peace & Vision Award.
One of Dr. McLendon’s most important legacies is leading the Academy/Rotary Host an Ophthalmologist Committee in 2001, succeeding Ken Tuck, MD, who established the committee in 1999. Dr. McLendon organizes Rotarian ophthalmologists in the U.S. to sponsor ophthalmologists from low to middle-income countries to visit practices in the U.S., participate in the Academy’s annual meeting and benefit from the significant educational resources available from the Academy. As of 2022, the Academy/Rotary Host Committee has hosted 146 ophthalmologists from 66 countries.
Dr. McLendon received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, completed ophthalmology residency training at the Medical College of Georgia and a cornea/external disease fellowship at the University of Oxford/Oxford Eye Hospital. He lives in Beaufort, S.C., and with his wife Susan they are the proud parents of three grown daughters.