Dr. Peter Aborn, Class of 1973, was recognized by CNN in 2009 as one of 100 CNN Heroes, a program that searches out unsung heroes around the world who give exceptional service to others. Dr. Aborn was recognized for creating Project Talamanca, a program he founded in 1996 to bring free dental care to people living in rural areas of Costa Rica, a country in which there are two dentists for every 30,000 people.
Dr. Aborn, a native New Yorker, left Scarsdale to go to Costa Rica in 1995, where he settled and established a practice in San Pedro. Two years later, he had an experience that changed the trajectory of his life. In 1997, Dr. Aborn first visited the Talamanca Reserve, a cloud forest approximately 2,400 feet above sea level, as a dental volunteer. By the time his volunteer activity was over, he felt he could not leave. In the years that followed, Dr. Aborn worked tirelessly and nearly alone, traveling to more and more remote regions, increasingly on his own time and at his own expense.
In January 2005, when floods all but destroyed what infrastructure the Reserve had, Dr. Aborn enlisted two of his colleagues and became among the few who responded with material assistance. Under Dr. Aborn's leadership, this nucleus has become Project Talamanca, a multinational, interdisciplinary volunteer organization, which in addition to providing dental care, also conducts research on the prevalence of partial and total edentulism, periodontal disease and the effect that natural medications have on it, and the prevalence of intra- and extra oral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe.
In January 2010, Dr. Aborn's fellow NYUCD alumnus, Dr. Gary R. Goldstein, Professor of Prosthodontics, joined Dr. Aborn on a Project Talamanca outreach, helping to treat over 600 patients in four-and-a-half days, 60 percent of whom were children.
"What Peter has done in Talamanca is amazing," says Dr. Goldstein. "He has single-handedly, with sheer force and determination, brought much-needed health care to an extremely remote community. But Peter needs our help. If you are in need of a grounding, life-altering experience, then consider doing as I did and joining him in Talamanca. You can contact Peter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org."