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A Heart for Humanity

Leawood Resident and Board Certified Neurosurgeon, Dr. Jayson Neil, was performing surgeries alongside Dominican scrub tech, Riky Garcia, when Garcia first approached him about doing mission work together in the Dominican Republic. “Riky was a translator for Good Samaritan Hospital in the Dominican and due to a great need, he was sent to the U.S. to be trained as a scrub tech” Dr. Neil shares. Garcia felt that Dr. Neil was a talented and compassionate surgeon, who would be a perfect surgeon for a mission trip. Dr. Neil was onboard to help and he shared with Garcia a checklist of criteria he would need to have in place in order to provide the safest care, things like a neurosurgeon on the ground there to prescreen patients and to provide adequate post-surgical care. Once the checklist was complete, Dr. Neil embarked upon his first mission trip to the Dominican, where he performed fifteen surgeries in one week on babies with Hydrocephalus, saving the lives of children that would otherwise have been terminal.

In 2018, Dr. Neil began his foundation, the Neurosurgery Outreach Foundation and he has continued his work with annual visits to the Dominican where he has made a tremendous impact in the lives of many families. “Parents there simply cannot afford this surgery, the cost of the equipment for just one shunt system is equal to the average annual salary for most families in the Dominican. These families are desperate because they know their child will otherwise die,” he says. Dr. Neil describes the government in the Dominican Republic as grateful and helpful. “They provide transportation for the families to surgery, run ads with prominent physicians to raise awareness and the Good Samaritan Hospital there provides the operating rooms, nursing staff and anesthesia all at no cost,” he says. 

He shares that sadly, providing free care here in the U.S. can be quite challenging due to the corporate and medical legal system, and that providing this care in the Dominican is personally fulfilling. “I don’t have to worry about all of the things I worry about here. I have the opportunity to focus solely on providing care. They trust you, and you go and do the right thing, and all of a sudden life is just a lot simpler,” he says. Dr. Neil reflects on a little girl named Amelia that he operated on during his first trip who returned with her family to express their gratitude to him on his last visit. “She is this healthy little girl now, who is running around and counting in both English and Spanish,” he says.

His plan is a long term one, to continue to build in the complexity of the surgeries his team can perform when they are there. “I want to continue to build something sustainable, to create something long lasting,” he shares. He plans to continue to bring tools like a high speed surgical drill that he can donate to the hospital that will allow him to provide a wider range of surgeries like removing brain tumors. He says “It seems inappropriate to have children dying when I can help by simply donating my skill set.”  He encourages others to do the very same. “Everyone has skills that are unique to them that they can share, and it may also serve to inspire others. It’s a ripple effect really.” To get involved visit hofconnect.org and comment Neurosurgery Outreach Foundation in the notes.

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