While in medical school at Harvard, Geoff Tabin applied for a leave of absence because he wanted to join a climbing expedition for a first ascent up the east face of Mount Everest. For this career-arresting request, an ophthalmologist called him a “moron” and steered him, instead, toward a high-altitude ophthalmologist research project in Nepal. Thus, by merging climbing with ophthalmology, Tabin managed to complete medical school and discover his two callings (curing people with preventable blindness and being the fourth person in the world to climb all seven summits).
In December of 2011, Tabin went to one of the most dangerous countries in the world — South Sudan — to a work with a clinic started by John Dau, one of the original Lost Boys of Sudan and a National Geographic Explorer. South Sudan, according to Tabin, “likely has the highest rate of blindness in the world.” Jordan Campbell, a regular at Mountainfilm in Telluride, went along to assist and report about their adventure. Since their visit, the region has spiraled into nightmarish ethnic violence that has killed scores of people, even in the villages where Tabin performed nearly 300 surgeries. Sir John Holmes of the International Rescue Committee says the region is threatened by a "perfect storm of famine, ethnic violence and escalating conflict over oil."
Take five minutes to watch how an expedition on Everest led to saving the eyesight of hundreds of thousands of people (video below) with cataracts in Nepal and throughout the Himalayas and Africa, or learn more about the Himalayan Cataract Project. The video clip was filmed at Mountainfilm in Telluride in 2011, and Tabin will be a film judge at the festival this spring.
Watch more Minds of Mountainfilm videos.