David Stinchcomb, MD
Peering through the windowed door of the operating room at Ohio State, a young temporary orderly witnessed his first eye surgery. He also got a glimpse into his future. David Stinchcomb was filling in for vacationing orderlies for a summer job between semesters when he saw William Havener, MD perform retinal surgery—using tiny, deft movements that would restore the patient’s vision. He did not know it then, but he had found his calling.
David was originally from Worthington, OH. At age four, he had developed accommodative esotropia, a condition where the eyes cross because they are trying too hard to see clearly. He was taken to Ohio State to see Dr. Albert Frost, the first chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Frost gave him glasses to correct his vision, which uncrossed his eyes, and set him on the path to medicine.
Growing up he knew that he wanted to be a doctor, even though no one in his family was in medicine. He was still an undergraduate at Miami University when he saw Dr. Havener operating on a retina. He counts it as a turning point in his life. Later, as a freshman at the OSU Medical School, he had the opportunity to attend a one hour ophthalmology introduction lecture by Dr. Havener.
“Dr. Havener was just a natural-born teacher and when he started talking it just flowed so easily and clearly. He wasn’t a dynamic, blow-them-away kind of speaker. He was very soft and it made you listen to each word.”
At that time, recent graduates from medical school were automatically enlisted in the military for two years. So, following medical school, Dr. Stinchcomb joined the Native American Division of the Public Health Service (PHS).
“I did general medicine. I was not an ophthalmologist, but they needed someone to go out and check the school kids for trachoma, a low-grade infection under the eyelid. So, I volunteered. I got a copy of Dr. Havener’s book, Ocular Pharmacology and read it while I was there— before I even started my eye residency.”
After two years in the PHS, Dr. Stinchcomb applied to Ohio State, but residencies were “booked up 2-3 years in advance” due to the Vietnam War. Instead, he completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin-
“All I ever wanted to do was medicine. I thank Ohio State University for giving me the opportunity. One way I can show my gratitude is by giving back to the Havener Eye Institute and I am happy to do it.”
Dr. and Mrs. Stinchcomb’s donations to the Department reached over $10,000 this past Spring. They will be inducted as the newest Havener Legacy members at the end of the year.