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This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
On Feb. 2, Kris Lythgoe — the youngest son of So You Think You Can Dance producer Nigel Lythgoe — went with his wife, Becky, to Cedars-Sinai for what they assumed would be a routine 36-week ultrasound.
“We’d had a perfect pregnancy — it was supposed to be a five-minute appointment,” says Becky. “But the radiologists noticed large black areas on the baby’s brain where there shouldn’t be.”
There was a follow-up MRI that afternoon and a C-section the following day. Becky, 38, and Kris, 36, were devastated to learn their baby had hydrocephalus, an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain (once known as “water on the brain”).
“It was shocking,” says Nigel, 66, recalling the day he learned of his grandson’s condition. “[Becky and Kris] had serious decisions to make. They were told the baby would likely have brain damage.”
One of best decisions they made — when the baby was 6 weeks old— was to seek out Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ chief of neurosurgery Mark Krieger, a renowned expert who treats dozens of kids a year with hydrocephalus. Krieger recommended inserting a cerebral shunt into the baby’s head to drain the fluid and funnel it through a tube under his skin into his abdomen. It not only saved the life of the child — who doesn’t have brain damage — but should allow him to live a relatively normal existence. (Although, for now he needs visits to Children’s every three months.)
“I even have kids who play football,” Krieger, 49, says. Today, Leo — a name chosen because “it means ‘strong lion,’ ” says Becky — is 7 months old and growing healthier every day. His grandfather couldn’t be more thrilled. Says Nigel, “He even has his first pair of tap shoes.”
Read more from The Hollywood Reporter‘s Top Doctors Issue:
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