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Alumnus Provides Specialty Care to Those in Need

Kevin J. Blinder to receive the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Kevin Blinder (M.D. ’85) with the School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award.

portrait of Kevin Blinder
Kevin Blinder (M.D. '85)

As an ophthalmologist, Blinder is a leading specialist of vitreoretinal diseases — which affect the back of the eye and fluid around it. A partner at the Retina Institute in St. Louis, Blinder is also a professor of ophthalmology at Washington University and has trained countless residents and fellows in retina education. In addition to teaching, operating and seeing patients, he has an interest in clinical research and has been an investigator in more than 30 clinical trials dealing with a variety of vitreoretinal pathology. He spoke with us about his specialty and time at UMKC.

Did you know you wanted to pursue ophthalmology while getting your degree?

I had no idea what area of medicine that I was going to specialize in early on. All I knew is that I wanted to be a physician and that I wanted to be in the six-year medical program that UMKC offered. I had an interest in ophthalmology throughout medical school and chose my specialty after taking the elective offered at UMKC with Dr. Felix Sabates.

You find time to participate in clinical research in addition to your other roles. Where does your passion for research stem from?

We learned early on in medical school the way to advance medicine is to ask questions and pursue answers. Clinical research attempts to answer these questions, from the simplest to the most complex. We can offer our patients cutting-edge technology that otherwise may not be available outside of the research protocol and benefit those that participate in the students and many other future patients.

Kevin Blinder with a patient in his office.

You travel monthly to Quincy, Illinois, to serve patients without access to specialty care. How did you get involved with the clinic there?

I was approached many years ago by one of my former roommates from medical school, Eric Sieck, to come to his office in Quincy and provide retinal care. I take an entire crew with me for what is usually a 15-hour day to provide care for patients who would otherwise potentially go untreated. It has been very fulfilling to provide this service and to work in the same office as one of my classmates and dearest friends from my medical school days.

What is a memory that stands out from medical school?

I think the most vivid and profound memory that I still have nightmares about is the night I was on call during a docent rotation when the Hyatt Regency walkway collapsed. We were asked to first assist in the ER, triaging and treating survivors as they were brought in over from the hotel. Then they asked for volunteers to go to the scene where people were trapped underneath tons of concrete to assist with rescue efforts; 114 people were killed, and 214 people were injured. I would like to think that we played a role in saving those 214 people who survived.

Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees

Learn more about School of Medicine

Published: Mar 6, 2020

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