Gary E. Fish, MD, was nominated by the Macula Society to receive the Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.
Over the last thirty years, Dr. Fish has donated his time, materials, and money to travel to an Eye Clinic in Haiti that has cared for thousands of patients with serious illnesses. He has continuously committed to serving the underprivileged, the indigent, and those most in need of care. In so doing, he has placed himself, his family and his colleagues in situations that have been dangerous and in fact, life threatening.
Since the early 1980’s, Dr. Fish has participated in approximately 28 trips to the Siloe Eye Clinic in Petit Goave, Haiti which was established in 1976 by the Highland Park United Methodist Church. This clinic has been the main source of eye care for the town of Petit Goave with many doctors, nurses, and other personnel contributing to its success. Over 35,000 patients have been seen and over 750 surgeries have been performed thus far.
In 2010, Dr. Fish, his son, a retina colleague from his practice and his office study coordinator embarked on a medical mission to this eye clinic. Toward the end of a long and arduous day, their work was interrupted by a massive earthquake which levelled the buildings around them, destroying innumerable homes and causing extensive loss of life. The eye clinic collapsed trapping the volunteers inside. Many were injured, some seriously. Dr. Fish himself sustained a fractured sternum among other injuries. His study coordinator was trapped beneath massive slabs of concrete and debris. Sadly, she suffered severe internal injuries and died in transit to the hospital. Those of lesser commitment would have been thankful for their good fortune in surviving a natural disaster that took so many lives. However, Dr. Fish has remained committed to the indigent and has since returned to Haiti for three additional missions.
More recently, one day when the clinic was especially busy, after extending their hours to see about 200 patients, a boatload of 30 people arrived from a nearby island hoping to receive the eye care they had heard about. Even when other members of the team wanted to quit for the day, Dr. Fish accepted these patients and continued to work through the evening. The people of Haiti truly appreciate the efforts Dr. Fish has brought to their country with his remarkable skills and his empathy as a provider of care.
Dr. Fish has participated in numerous other missions including eye clinics in Uspantan and San Cristobal in Guatemala for the past 8 years, the Bonita Oriental Clinic in Honduras, and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico where he performed laser treatments for diabetic patients.
Besides his contributions to his many medical missions, he has also been a financial supporter of the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the North Texas Food Bank, World Vision, the Retina Foundation of the Southwest, and the Parkland Foundation, which helps support medical care for the needy of Dallas.
Dr. Fish has continued to put his life’s work into these missions bringing staff and fellow faculty members from around the country to participate in his community and global mission of providing sight and hope to those who are less fortunate and otherwise would not have access to such care. Dr Fish truly puts his heart, mind, body, soul, and finances into each mission, helping people in these much underserved areas, as well as in his community. The Academy is privileged to honor Dr. Gary E. Fish with this year’s Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.