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A Light We Share

Brian & Kelsey McNeill

Brian’s Story

From Life Support to Sharing the Light

In 2018, I beat significant medical odds to overcome infective endocarditis, an infection in the aortic valve of my heart, which caused me to have multiple blood clots, including several strokes and a heart attack. I endured a grueling 14 hour surgery , which left my heart weakened to the point that it stopped, and I spent 4 days on Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) life support. Finally, I survived a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during which I was administered CPR for over 40 minutes, and received 18 shocks from a defibrillator before my heartbeat finally returned.

When asked what I thought my return from these brushes with death meant, I responded that I felt I had always tried to bring positivity to a relatively dark environment (I was a teacher in a correctional complex at the time), and that I would simply try to, “Carry the light.”

Upon further reflection as to what that meant, I realized that what I really enjoyed about life was connecting with other people, regardless of our differences. I knew that I wanted to find a way to build that connection, and help others build connections with each other. I believe that the light inside each of us is our humanity-that which makes each of us unique, and yet also that which we all have in common. I questioned why I was able to live through such an experience, while some others do not. And I came to the belief that it was, in part, because so many people shined their lights on me.


To carry and share the light

My mission is simple – to carry and share the light. After severe illness, and brushes with death from which no one thought I would return, I sought understanding about meaning in life. And I found it as I considered the countless individuals who shared their lights with me – from the people who were praying from a distance, to my family by my side; from the teams who cleaned my hospital rooms, to the surgeon who pumped my heart with his own hands. Each of these people gave of their light to reignite mine. And now, I want to share my story, and I want to share how the light within us is the greatest gift of humanity. We all have a light. And we all have the power to share our light with others to create connection, understanding, and love

For the Community

Brian is eager to share his story and the lessons garnered from it. He is available to speak to groups in any setting and of any size. If you, your business, or your organization are interested, please contact us at [email protected].

For Medical Professionals

Brian developed the passion for telling his story after learning of completed suicides by two staff in one of the units where he was a patient. Hearing this news was devastating, because of the profound respect Brian and his family feel for all the professionals who helped them along the way. Brian is available to speak to any group of medical professionals – nurses, EMTs, ICU staff, physicians. He is driven to inspire the people who saved his life; to remind them that for all the loss and trauma they experience, the amazing work they do makes a profound difference. If you have a medical group interested in hearing Brian’s story and inspiration, please contact us at [email protected].