Pablo Pons, MD Maria Pons, PhD

Married for 56 years, Drs. Pablo and Maria Pons came to the United States from the Dominican Republic to further their education and live, but they have never forgotten from where they came and the poor they left behind. Founders of Midwest Medical Mission, they have organized physicians, nurses, therapists and technicians from Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia, who have served tens of thousands in the Dominican Republic on a quarterly basis for 30 years.

Midwest Medical Mission — which at one time also made trips to Haiti — has grown to now include more than 25 physicians and surgeons and more than 40 nurses, therapists and technicians. The organization operates on an annual budget of less than $10,000 and each member of the group donates their time and pays their own travel expenses. Any monies raised goes for the purchase of medicines and transportation while in that country.

In addition to offering their technical expertise, volunteers for Midwest Medical Mission have facilitated the adoption of the charity by a number of service organizations including Rotary of Canton, Ohio. Because of MMM's work, Rotarians in that city recently purchased an ambulance for the Antonio Musa Hospital for the Poor in San Pedro de Macoris.

Midwest Medical Mission has also facilitated bringing more than 20 patients to the United States for complex surgeries not performed in the Dominican Republic. These surgeries — performed at The University of Toledo Medical Center, the Ohio State University Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic and at the University of Michigan Medical Center — include corneal transplants for a boy blinded in an explosion as well as complex heart surgeries for seven children. Like all of their work, these services have been provided free of charge.

A graduate of the University of Santo Domingo, Dr. Pablo Pons completed his internship and residency at Salvador B. Gautier Hospital in that city. He then came to the United States where he completed a family practice residency at Halifax District Hospital in Daytona Beach, Fla., and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Toledo Hospital. A fellowship in high-risk obstetrics would follow at the Toledo Hospital. From 1970-2004, he worked in private practice as a family physician and in OB-GYN. He is a former chief of the OB-GYN Department at Riverside Hospital and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.

Since 1985, Dr. Maria Christina Pons has served as the executive director of Midwest Medical Mission. The holder of a doctorate in pharmacy and clinical sciences, also from the University of Santo Domingo, she has received many awards for her service. In 2008, Dr. Maria Pons was honored by then Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez with that nation's Humanitarian Award. Like her husband, Dr. Maria Pons is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.