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Grateful patient’s gift boosts Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s surgical capabilities

G. Ed Williamson II

Ed Williamson II remembers the first philanthropic gift his family made to the University of Miami in 1974: a brand-new Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, worth about $8,300, for then-President Henry King Stanford to use for official business. He donated the car with his father, George Williamson, and brother Tommy, his partners in a Cadillac dealership.

“We felt it was important to get involved with an institution that has such a big impact on our community,” says Williamson, chairman and CEO of Williamson Auto Group, one of the nation’s top Cadillac dealerships and a leading Buick-GMC franchise.

Nearly 50 years later, Williamson’s support remains strong. Recently, the longtime University trustee and his wife, Carol, donated funds to purchase two NGENUITY 3D Visualization Systems for the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the Miller School of Medicine.

The leading-edge device, integrated with optical coherence tomography, provides optimized visualization over traditional microscopes to enhance precision and accuracy during eye surgery. The system allows the operating room team to view procedures in real time using specialized 3D glasses. This allows for stronger collaboration during the procedure and better training for future doctors.

The Miller School ophthalmology team has been able to demo the equipment and hopes to receive its device in August.

“This device can be used for every subspecialty, from cataracts and glaucoma to retinal tears and gene therapy,” said Audina Berrocal, M.D., professor of clinical ophthalmology. Dr. Berrocal specializes in treating children and adults with retina and vitreous diseases. “We are grateful for the Williamsons’ generosity. Philanthropy is so important for academic medicine because it allows us to push research and technology beyond what our normal budgets allow. For Bascom Palmer, having the most up-to-date surgical technology in ophthalmology is imperative for continuing development of new techniques that shape the way surgery is practice in the world. This technology is the future, and it will allow us to remain at the forefront of our field as Bascom Palmer has always being, pushing the field forward.”

Williamson met Dr. Berrocal about 10 years ago when she began treating him with injections for venous occlusion, a blockage in the vein that carries used blood away from the retina. For the first few years after his diagnosis, Williamson underwent the therapy every six weeks, but thanks to advances in medications, he now goes about twice a year.

“Dr. Berrocal does great things, and I have so much faith in her expertise,” said Williamson. “I’m pleased that this equipment will advance her research as well as her teaching mission. We are so fortunate to have an institution like Bascom Palmer in South Florida, and the University of Miami, globally speaking, is fortunate to have an institution with such great and deserved international fame. That halo works its way across the university.”

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FALL 2021