Guthrie Ophthalmologist Named Catholic Doctor of the Year


Dr. Schanzer Recognized as Catholic Doctor of the Year

Dr. Cathy Schanzer being honored along with her husband, Tom Lewis.
Dr. Cathy Schanzer being honored along with her husband, Tom Lewis.

Dr. Schanzer Honored for Mission Work

Dr. Cathy Schanzer and colleague performing eye exam on local child.
Dr. Cathy Schanzer and colleague performing eye exam on local child.

Sayre, Pa., Nov. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Guthrie is proud to announce that Ophthalmologist Dr. Cathy Schanzer, has been recognized by the Mission Doctors Association as the Catholic Doctor of the Year with the “World of Difference Award.” Dr. Schanzer was honored at the Los Angeles Archdiocese Annual Mass for Healthcare Professionals, for her mission work in Siera Leone, where she and her husband, Tom Lewis, established an eye care clinic, providing free exams and surgery for individuals who would otherwise go without. 

Dr. Schanzer was first inspired to follow a call to missionary service in the third grade when she heard a Maryknoll priest speak about his mission work in Africa. In 1988, she went on her first medical mission trip to a Catholic Mission Hospital in Abak, Nigeria. She continued with annual mission trips to other African nations. In 2006, Dr. Schanzer and her husband, at the invitation of local Archbishop Joseph Ganda, established Southern Eye Clinic in Serabu, Sierra Leone.  
Today, Southern Eye Clinic of Serabu is open year-round, providing diagnostic examinations, medicines, eyeglasses, and modern eye surgery free of charge to all patients. It is not uncommon for patients to walk several days to reach Serabu to receive this essential care. Each January and June, when Dr. Schanzer is in Serabu, it is not unusual to care for 100+ clinic patients and 30+ surgical patients per day. During the rest of the year, 64 employees keep the primary clinic and 10 satellite clinics in nearby villages running. Additionally, their work supports numerous community development projects including water wells, food programs, education scholarships, a computer center, sports, and cultural events.  
Dr. Schanzer attended the University of Texas Medical School and completed her Ophthalmology residency at Baylor College of Medicine. During her residency, Dr. Schanzer and her husband pursued adoption and ultimately adopted seven children.  
Earlier this year, Dr. Schanzer was diagnosed with glioblastoma (a form of brain cancer), a diagnosis that is often terminal in less than two years. Dr. Schanzer had surgery to remove the primary tumor, followed by radiation therapy and continues with chemotherapy. Dr. Schanzer and her husband are grateful for their deep faith and the strong worldwide support of family and friends.  
Executive Director of the Mission Doctors Association, Elise Frederick said, “After Tom reached out to share Cathy’s diagnosis, I had the opportunity to speak to them while they were on the road visiting friends and family. I was so moved by their years of dedicated service and their faith. Having provided sight restoring surgery both here in the United States and in Africa, truly they have a clear vision of striving to follow where God is leading them.” 
For more information about the work of Dr. Schanzer, or to make a donation, visit


CONTACT: Kathy Cramer Guthrie 570-887-4415 [email protected] 

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