Victory and Prevail at the Dame Irene Okwuosa Memorial Hospital in Oraifite, Nigeria
Seven-year-old Victory Ohiemi and four-year-old Prevail Adeyemi are best friends who have many things in common. They are both from Abuja, Nigeria, have infectious smiles, love to play with their siblings, enjoy drawing and coloring, and as of October 2023, they were both in desperate need of open-heart surgery. Victory was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects present at birth and typically corrected just after birth in the United States. Prevail was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD), a heart defect due to an abnormal connection between the lower chambers of the heart. Their chance to receive surgery in Nigeria is 0.00006 percent if they can afford the procedure, and unfortunately neither family could afford the expense.
It was their good fortune that in October 2023, VOOM Foundation’s volunteer pediatric medical team was hosting a cost-free open-heart surgery mission at the Dame Irene Okwuosa Memorial Hospital in Oraifite, Nigeria. There were six children coming from Abuja’s Galwage Teaching Hospital, looking for solutions to their disease. The families were notified by the hospital to come and be evaluated for consideration. Victory, Prevail and their mom’s packed their bags and began the long journey to Oraifite, hoping for the opportunity to receive surgery.
Shannon, Ashley & Jeff
Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jeff McNeil, accompanied by his wife Shannon, joined VOOM Foundation for his inaugural open-heart surgery mission to Nigeria in May of 2018. Although it was his first medical mission to Nigeria, it was not his first volunteer experience helping Nigerians with open-heart surgery.
It all began in 2017 when Jeff and Shannon agreed to host a young Nigerian boy named Purity, who needed life-saving open-heart surgery. Jeff initially helped Purity get accepted into the Austin, Texas-based non-profit HeartGift program. But to obtain his free surgery in the United States, young Purity and his mother would have to stay with a host family. Jeff and Shannon stepped forward. They opened their home and provided accommodations for Purity and his mother, Anita. They also accompanied Purity to doctor appointments and provided support throughout his two-month stay in the United States.
The McNeils would open their home once again for the HeartGift program in 2020, hosting their second Nigerian child in need and supporting the patient’s family.