The granddaughter of the man who invented the pacemaker, a device used by millions around the world, is celebrating a medical milestone of her own in Edmonton.

Natasha Hajduk calls it surreal – walking the halls of the same place where her grandfather John Callaghan is considered a legend.

While Hajduk’s grandfather never had the chance to see the Mazankowski Heart Institute, many procedures performed within its walls have evolved from Callaghan’s work.

Hajduk remembers her grandpa as someone who was always on his tractor.

“That was his serenity away from the operating room,” she recalled.

But the world remembers Callaghan as the co-developer of the world’s first cardiac pacemaker – a device that regulates heart rate and rhythm and one that is used by millions around the world.

Callaghan was also the first to perform open heart surgery.

It was when she was in elementary school when Hajduk began learning about the incredible things her grandfather had done.

“When I was in Grade 6 I did a project on him and how he had developed the first pacemaker. I remember doing an interview with him and learning through that conversation all the different things he did and I was really inspired and astounded by all of the stuff he had accomplished,” Hajduk said.

“Before that I just thought of him as grandpa, I didn’t know that he had all of this success.”

It was those accomplishments that inspired Hajduk and led the young woman to where she is today.

'He would be so proud'

Hajduk wanted to help people just like her grandfather did, and soon she’ll be one step closer to doing that.

On Friday, Hajduk will accept her medical degree from the University of Alberta, becoming the first in her family to follow grandpa’s legacy and become a doctor.

“It’s exciting,” says Hajduk’s mother Margot, who is Callaghan’s daughter.

“I wish dad was here. He would be so proud. He would be so excited to have someone in the medical field as a doctor. He would be ecstatic.”

Margot is a nurse and has treated patients her father has operated on. She says seeing her daughter chase similar dreams make her emotional.

“The hard work she puts into things, the hard work she puts into her school,” Margot said.

The proud mother says she sees her father’s determination and compassion in her daughter.

“It’s such a proud moment to have your child work so hard and attain such a good goal and successfully achieve it,” Margot said.

Hajduk wants to be a family doctor.

After receiving her degree she will complete a residency in Calgary and hopes to help patients with the same care her grandfather did.

“The stories that I’ve always found very touching about my grandfather were how much he cared about his patients. They weren’t just patients to him they were people with problems that he wanted to fix,” Hajduk said.

“I think for me, I wanted to carry on that feeling of truly caring about my patients, each and every one of them.”

Down the road, Hajduk believes she’d also like to become a medical teacher.

“I do love the idea of teaching and passing along knowledge to the next generation,” she says.

Click here to learn more about Dr. John Callaghan.

With files from Carmen Leibel