The University of Alberta Alumni Association is pleased to announce Dr. Donald C. Fletcher will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award for his work with low-vision patients and as an advocate for inclusive membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dr. Fletcher will receive this award on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the annual Alumni Awards ceremony.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the truly outstanding accomplishments of living University of Alberta alumni who have earned national or international prominence as a result of their outstanding professional achievements and service to society.
When Donald C. Fletcher, ’80 BMedSc, ’82 MD, was in kindergarten, someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was a doctor or a tiger. He chose scrubs and surgery over stripes and claws.
Ophthalmology appealed to Fletcher and working with low-vision patients called to him. His patients have significant vision loss that affects their everyday life, especially the ability to read. He has provided care to more than 25,000 patients and has worked on technologies to help his patients read.
One of his proudest contributions was to incorporate a team approach that included occupational therapists in low-vision care. It took him 15 years to get blanket approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to include rehabilitation with vision improvement.
He has also helped establish low-vision rehabilitation clinics in the Philippines, Zimbabwe and North and South America.
Fletcher has served in leadership roles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As bishop for a San Francisco congregation at one point, a relative shared that he was a member of the LGBTQ community. Fletcher welcomed the community into the church.
“I think this is one of the most correct things I’ve ever done, and I will keep pushing until the day I die to ensure my brothers and sisters who are gay know God loves them.”