July 19, 2016
In 2014, Paul, an active duty Marine of 9 years, and Jessie, a Marine Corps veteran, decided to expand their family of 3 to a family of 4. After trying for their second baby for months, they had a positive pregnancy test in April 2015; they were ecstatic. The pregnancy was typical and perfect until about 26 weeks when Jessie was told she had developed Polyhydramnios. Polyhydramnios is a condition where there is an excessive accumulation of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in utero. Because of this, Jessie had to be monitored weekly with ultrasounds. Doctors said all the added fluid surrounding the baby gave him less room to move and applied pressure to his body. Initially the diagnosis wasn’t alarming; eventually, however, the baby had to be monitored as well because of inadequate space and the growing possibility of having a preterm delivery. What was once a worry- free pregnancy had now became very concerning for Jessie and Paul.
On October 30, 2015, Mason Lee Gallier arrived, 4 weeks early. He was born at 36 weeks due to the polyhydramnios and spent 3 days in the NICU for low blood sugar, mild respiratory distress, and low tone. Ten days after Mason was born, Jessie and Paul noticed he had developed a cough and took him to the emergency room. It turned out that the cough was due to aspiration during his feedings. At that point, Mason had to get a Naso-gastric (NG) tube put in and was fed by a pump for 3 months so his throat muscles could become stronger to avoid aspiration during feeding. Along with the NG tube, Mason battles with reflux. With both the NG tube and reflux, Mason was constantly in the upright position, making it even more difficult to prevent his head from tilting as he stayed upright.
Soon after, Mason was diagnosed with torticollis. The extra fluid in utero, caused by Jessie’s polyhydramnios, squished Mason throughout the pregnancy and forced him to tilt his head for much of his growth and development. Mason receives physical therapy three times a month to help strengthen his neck muscles and loosen the muscles on his tightened right side to help correct his torticollis and prevent the constant tilt of his head. He also has limited range of head motion to the right and his left ear has moved forward. In addition, Mason had developed another condition called plagiocephaly, which is a common result of untreated torticollis. A CT scan proved that the torticollis was the culprit that caused him to favor his right side and develop a flat spot on his head. The flat spot was causing other sides of his skull to expand and compensate for the area getting constant pressure from favoring it.
The recommended treatment to correct this problem is a $2500 Starband helmet for Mason, which has a 100% success rate for achieving measurable improvements. If left untreated, Mason risks developing cervical spine contractures, which can impact mobility and the ability to interact with peers, limited shoulder mobility, and cervical scoliosis; further complications could develop and cause issues with his Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), jaw misalignment, and development of problems with his eyesight.
Mason is currently covered under Tricare healthcare, which has been a blessing in covering all of his medical needs up to this point. Unfortunately, Tricare will not cover the cost of the needed helmet, saying they would only approve the helmet if it was required following a surgery, which only has a 30% success rate. Tricare will not allow the surgery until Mason has suffered through each of these painful issues.Because Mason thankfully does not require surgery at this time, Tricare views the condition as cosmetic and will not cover the helmet. Tricare is failing to consider the potential future issues that could result if Mason does not receive a helmet now. His best chance at fixing the torticollis and plagiocephaly before enduring this pain is the helmet.
Together, with our network of donors we were able help Mason get the treatment he needs. Now as of August 19, Mason will be able to enjoy a normal life full of fun and happiness.