Producer Nigel Lythgoe Pays Homage to the Doctor Who Saved His Baby Grandson

THR Nigel Lythgoe Doctor - H 2015
Smallz + Raskind

THR Nigel Lythgoe Doctor - H 2015

When the 'So You Think You Can Dance' exec's grandson was discovered to have hydrocephalus in utero, he found a pediatric neurologist that saved his life. Now, the 7-month-old baby "even has his first pair of tap shoes," he tells THR for the annual Doctors Issue.

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:

Hollywood's Top Doctors 2015

Hollywood DSM: Industry Shrinks Reveal What’s Wrong With Actors, Producers, Agents and More

Stars and Their Doctors: Seth MacFarlane With the Man Who Saved His Voice for the Oscars

Stars and Their Doctors: A 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Producer and the Man Who Knows Him Inside Out

Producer Nigel Lythgoe Pays Homage to the Doctor Who Saved His Baby Grandson

Stars and Their Doctors: Charlie Sheen and the Man Who Gives Him Stem Cells

How a Showtime PR Exec's Daughter Was Cured of Debilitating Scoliosis

Yes, You Can Turn 100 in Hollywood and Still Work

Former CAA Partner: Why I Became an Agent for the Sick (Guest Column)

Dr. Fredric Brandt's Suicide Sparks Frantic Scramble for His Celebrity Patients

Nancy Snyderman Breaks Silence on Ebola Nightmare, NBC News: "People Wanted Me Dead" (Exclusive)

Hollywood Psychologist on Reasons Why A-List Couples Fail

Hollywood's Top Doctors 2015: The Dentist List

Want to Get "Expensive Urine"? Look at the Hollywood History of Health Fads

L.A.'s Westside Mystery: Higher Cancer Rates in One Zip Code, Longer Lives in Another

Manopause and Male Aging: Gavin Polone Says Just Say No to Those Drugs (Guest Column)

Ken Jeong: How to Ditch Medicine for a Career in Comedy and Diagnose Castmates (Guest Column)

Why There’s a Medical Crisis for Transgender Youth (Guest Column)