Revisiting the Success Story of Lei Mason: When we first told the story of Lei Mason Spicer, he was 2-years-old. Today, he is a strong 5-year-old and was one of the first patients to be seen at the brand new Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village.
Lei Mason Spicer, 5, began his life at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. At birth, he weighed only 1.5 lbs., smaller than the average pineapple. He spent the first six months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Miller Children’s & Women’s.
A team of pediatric specialists rallied around Lei to address the range of health issues he faced during his first few months of life. Since Lei’s health needs didn’t end when he left the NICU, that comprehensive care team stayed with him through his health journey.
Lei had a hole in his heart, and required the expertise of a pediatric cardiac surgeon. He also needed a pediatric pulmonologist to address his chronic lung disease - a result of his premature birth. Due to the complexities of his conditions, Lei also needed a pediatric gastroenterologist to help as he struggled with feedings and gaining weight.
Lei required a tracheostomy in his throat to help him breathe and a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) to deliver nutrition directly to his stomach.
For the last five years, Lei has been under the watchful eye of his pediatric specialist team at Miller Children’s & Women’s and has made leaps and bounds in his health progress.
“For a while we were going for speech and physical therapy three times a week, and were doing follow up every three months with his specialists, but we have been discharged from rehabilitation, as well as cardiology,” says Lei’s mom Kristen. “He was also able to get his tracheostomy removed and his lung function continues to look good as he grows.”
Many children like Lei have more than one health issue or complex health conditions, which previously required families to travel to various Miller Children’s & Women’s specialty medical offices scattered around Long Beach.
However, now more than 30 different types of specialty physicians and a variety of medical services, such as a pharmacy, laboratory, imaging services and rehabilitation gyms, are all centralized in the brand-new Children’s Village.
“Before we had to do so much back and forth driving to all the locations,” says Kristen. “This is going to be so beneficial for families.”
The Children’s Village is an 80,000-sq. ft., four-story building located on the campus of Miller Children’s & Women’s. By centralizing services under one roof, it makes the health care experience more convenient and efficient for thousands of children like Lei across the region who need specialized pediatric care each year.
On Monday, Feb. 22, Lei was one of the first patients to see his pediatric specialist in the Children’s Village. Lei’s appointment was with pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Roy Nattiv, who gave Lei and his mom Kristen the good news that his G-tube was coming out - Lei’s last major health hurdle.
“Lei has made so much progress and has been gaining weight and eating on his own for some time,” says Dr. Nattiv. “He has really outgrown his G-tube and this is an exciting milestone in his health journey.”
As Lei grows, he may need follow-up care from his team from time to time. When he needs it, he and his family can easily find care from multiple experts in the Children’s Village.