November 11, 2016

Surgery could be life changing for local toddler - By Elizabeth Richards

In early 2015, Joshua Dall answered a stranger’s call for help. After seeing a plea painted on her car window, Dall donated one of his kidney’s to Christine Royles, the single mother of a two year old. Now, Dall and his family need help in giving their 2-year-old Mason a chance to walk. 

Mason has the opportunity to have a potentially life changing surgery, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), is a procedure that can provide permanent reduction of spasticity in Cerebral Palsy. 
Successful SDR brings improvements in gross motor skills, including sitting, standing and walking. Mason has been accepted for the surgery, which has been scheduled for mid-December. Ashley, Mason’s mother, said she believes Mason will be the first child in the state to receive this surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

This is a surgery the Dalls had heard about when Mason was very young, but didn’t think he would qualify for. “It was just such a bleak future that they had prepared us for,” she said. But now that he is two and has surpassed all expectations for what he is able to do, she decided to apply. “It seems surreal, almost, because it can literally change every aspect of Mason’s life,” Ashley said.
Mason and his twin were born premature at just over 29 weeks. Initially, all was well with both boys. But at around 2 weeks old, Mason began having difficulties, and at one month was diagnosed with Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). His mother, Ashley Dall, described this condition as holes in the white matter of his brain. He had the most serious type of PVL, cystic and bilateral, meaning both sides are affected. At 18 months of age, Mason was also diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebal palsy. 

Despite his challenges, Mason has already developed far beyond what doctors expected. He can speak in up to seven word sentences, knows his alphabet, and can count to ten. He started sitting propped at approximately a year, army crawling at 17 months, 4 point crawling and pulling to stand at a year and a half, and attempting to “cruise” furniture near the 20 month mark. 

All of these feats are things the Dalls were told Mason would never do. They refused to accept that outlook, and have done all they can to ensure that Mason has the best possible life. Mason gets physical therapy four days each week, occupational therapy once a week, and therapeutic horseback riding once a week. 

“His neurologist considers him a medical miracle,” Ashley said. “She says the reason Mason looks the way he does now because of all the time and energy we have spent on getting him every service he could possibly get.” 

Although the Dalls have insurance, there are co-payments, co-insurance, and many expenses associated with the trip to St. Louis where Mason’s surgery will be performed. Ashley, Joshua and Mason will need to stay for 10 days for the initial surgery and post-op. They will then need to return for a four month follow up, and a one year follow up. According to a Go Fund Me page set up by a friend, the process of applying and being accepted for surgery was very quick, which didn’t leave a lot of time for pre-planning. So the Dalls and their friends are reaching out to the community for help.

“We’ve chosen to do a lot of things to help make the community better, and everybody could help make Mason’s life better,” Ashley said. “Joshua made a huge decision to do something to change somebody else’s life. Maybe the community can see that and know that it can be as simple as one person helping.” It’s also an opportunity, she said, to teach children a lesson about helping one another out. 

The surgery could change not only Mason’s life, but life for the whole family. Ashley said there are things they can’t currently do as a family, because of Mason’s needs. “Even going places is complicated because we have to make sure they have the right seating for Mason,” she said.
The surgery will come with a long recovery period, and even more intense therapies than Mason already receives. But once they get through that, Ashley said, “We’ll have more freedom to do stuff, have fun as a family that we can’t quite do now.”

Donations can be made at Mason’s story and updates are posted on the page. A comedy benefit fundraiser, featuring Dennis Fogg, George Hamm and friends is also planned for Saturday, November 19th at Chicago Dogs in South Portland. The 7 p.m. show is sold out, but a 9 p.m. show is being added. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $12 at the door. To reserve a seat, call 207-615-4079.

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