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Vision Quest

A Dallas eye doctor helps his father see how they can change the world.

Chris fuller wanted to be just like his dad—until it was time to be just like him. Fresh out of an ophthalmology residency at UT Southwestern, Fuller told his father, Dr. Dwain Fuller, a vitreo-retinal specialist in Dallas, that rather than join a prestigious practice, he would spend a year traveling the Third World in something called a flying eye hospital. A what? The father had never heard of such a thing.

“I felt he was abandoning that first year just to travel,” Dwain says.

The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, a nonprofit established in 1982, is a fully equipped teaching hospital built inside a DC-10. It flies throughout the developing world, its staff and visiting faculty teaching medical techniques to local eye specialists. It also serves as a hospital for treating local cases where indigenous facilities aren’t available.

“That just sounded so damn cool,” Chris says. Especially during those sleepless nights at Parkland when he found himself “idly speculating about the endless spate of beer-bottle-to-eyeball injuries currently plaguing [North Texas].” In 2006, he signed up for a year in the air with ORBIS. “I’ve had the chance to work with some of the brightest minds in the world of ophthalmology,” he says. “I’ve seen India’s Prashant Gard, a so-called ‘ninja surgeon,’ deftly extract a cataract in three minutes flat.” Chris’ tales piqued even his father’s interest. Dwain recently spent a week on the plane in Syria. He loved it. Now the Doctors Fuller have tentatively agreed to serve as joint visiting faculty for ORIBIS’ January 2008 program in Vietnam.

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