When someone uses their well-earned time off to share their talents with those in need, you know they must have a true passion for what they do. John Pajka, MD, an Ohio State Ophthalmology alumnus practicing in Lima, Ohio, spends his vacation time bringing eye care to those in need across the world.
“People ask me why I do this mission thing so much,” Pajka said. "I frequently find myself quoting former Chairman Dr. Havener: ‘Find a job you love and you don’t have to work anymore.’ Ever since my residency at The Ohio State University, my wife Linda and I wanted to do some sort of mission work.”
Since then, they have traveled all over the world from Africa to South America, bringing ophthalmic care to thousands.
"A simple cataract operation doesn’t just restore their sight, it changes and restores their lives, and gives hope where often there was none.”
Pajka is tireless in his dedication to restoring sight. On a recent trip, Pajka visited the remote region of Bushenyi, Uganda located in equatorial Africa. Bushenyi lacks the resources and infrastructure to provide, in some cases, even the most basic health care.
“Most of the people we operate on have been blind from cataracts for years, not seeing loved ones, not able to see to feed themselves, let alone to work," Pajka said. "They have become totally dependent on family or neighbors for everything. A simple cataract operation doesn’t just restore their sight, it changes and restores their lives, and gives hope where often there was none.”
While as many as 420,000 people in Uganda are blind, the country has only 39 ophthalmologists, mostly in urban areas. With such a desperate need, doctors like Dr. Pajka are making a difference not only in individual lives, but for entire communities.
“There are few procedures in medicine where we can make such a profound impact on so many people’s lives in so short a time,” Pajka said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to do this, giving back, paying forward. I have a great job and missions like this help remind me why I went into medicine, to help people. There is nothing like it."
Linda J. and John T. Pajka MD Global Ophthalmology Endowment Fund
Established August 29, 2014, with a gift from Linda J. Pajka and Dr. John T. Pajka of Lima, Ohio. Supporting the Department of Ophthalmology's mission of the Global Outreach Project and similar medical outreach activities by ophthalmology medical students, residents and fellows providing medical education and care to foreign or U.S. communities.
John and Linda Pajka are well-acquainted with the importance of international outreach. Having completed healthcare service trips to many developing countries, they have seen first-hand the impact that can be made in a short time by a few dedicated individuals. Recently, John and Linda started an endowment to support a new medical education program providing eyecare in developing countries. This program not only allows OSU Ophthalmology residents to experience healthcare in underprivileged countries, but also provides eye care where the need is greatest. These mentored, service-learning experiences help shape future ophthalmologists to provide the best possible care with a spirit of compassion. John graduated with honors from OSU College of Medicine in 1986 and completed his ophthalmology residency at OSU Havener Eye Institute in 1990. Linda completed her nursing degree in 1986 at Ohio State.
Today, Dr. Pajka is an extremely busy ophthalmologist from Lima, Ohio who, together with his wife Linda, spends his vacation time bringing eye care to under-privileged countries, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Uzbekistan, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Costa Rica.
“People ask me why I do this mission thing so much,” said Pajka “and I frequently find myself quoting Dr. Havener, ‘Find a job you love and you don’t have to work anymore.’ Ever since my residency at OSU, my wife Linda and I wanted to do some sort of mission work.”
John and Linda have been all over the world, from Africa to Asia to Central America, bringing ophthalmic care to thousands of impoverished people. They are tireless in their dedication to restoring sight. They have donated their time and resources to work with local eye surgeons, providing cataract surgery and care to people who otherwise would remain sightless. When the opportunity to start a program that would educate future eye surgeons and help those in greatest need, they were enthusiastic in their support.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to do this, giving back, paying forward,” said Pajka. “I have a great job and missions like this help remind me why I went into medicine, to help people. There is nothing like it!”
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