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.
Dr. McNeil first met Nigerian cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Tony Efobi in 2019, at the American Association of Thoracic Surgery meeting in San Diego. The two had been corresponding by email for several years about cardiothoracic surgery and Nigeria, and discussed several of Dr. Efobi’s patients with unique presentations, including Purity. Their communication started when Dr. Efobi reached out to Dr. McNeil online, requesting the manuscript to a journal article Dr. McNeil had written. The two surgeons struck up a friendship, and when Dr. McNeil became interested in traveling to Nigeria, Dr. Efobi suggested that he reach out to VOOM Foundation.
Later that year, Dr. McNeil and Shannon travelled with VOOM Foundation to serve in their first medical mission at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, Nigeria. Jeff served as VOOM’s lead surgeon for the mission, and Shannon served as a volunteer administrator. Jeff’s commitment included recruiting many of his colleagues, raising funds and helping to source consumable supplies to help assure mission success. Jeff and his team performed six successful open-heart surgeries during this mission. Both Jeff and Shannon also gave blood when the supply was low or when their blood type matched a particular patient in need.
In 2019, recognizing the dire need of a strong open-heart surgery program in Nigeria and aligning with the VOOM Foundation mission and vision, Dr. McNeil graciously joined the VOOM Foundation board of directors with the goal to advance heart surgery in Nigeria. Since that time, Dr. McNeil and Shannon have attended five missions and will head back to Nigerian in May 2024 for their sixth.
Dr. McNeil has been hugely instrumental in the advancement of the VOOM Foundation program in Nigeria, sharing his expertise, bringing in industry contacts, and recruiting passionate volunteers. He also has been integral in VOOM Foundation’s growth and is one of the reasons VOOM Foundation led all healthcare industries in heart surgeries performed in Nigeria in 2023.
Jeff and Shannon’s latest recruit is their daughter, Ashley McNeil Barnett, a cardiac anesthesiologist. The father-daughter duo performed surgery together for the first time in Nigeria in November 2023, saving a total of 11 open-heart patients.
On behalf of our patients, VOOM Foundation would like to thank the McNeil family for all their support and sacrifice to advance healthcare in Nigeria and for all the lives they have saved. Their efforts are the epitome of selfless service.
November 2023, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Jeff McNeil and Anesthesiologist, Dr. Ashley McNeil Barnett first medical
mission together in Nigeria as a father daughter team
ABOUT VOOM FOUNDATION
VOOM Foundation is a private international medical humanitarian organization made up of volunteer doctors, nurses, health workers and many other support professionals who contribute to the mission of the VOOM Foundation.
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