JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mason Joseph is your average 4-year-old and that’s all her mom Baylee Joseph could’ve wished for.
“I always tell everyone I wish I had a crystal ball," Joseph said. "If I had seen a glimpse into the future, I wouldn’t have worried at all.”
But how could she not?
During her second trimester, doctors warned that Mason wasn’t developing properly and advised Joseph to terminate the pregnancy. Instead she went for a second opinion and found answers 1,000 miles away.
“Your maternal instinct is I will do anything help my baby," Joseph said. "We just needed to find where that was. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia specializes in fetal care. We obviously went there for a consultation and qualified for fetal surgery.”
Mason was diagnosed with spina bifida. CHOP defines it as "a birth defect in which an area of the spinal column doesn't form properly, leaving a section of the spinal cord and spinal nerves exposed through an opening in the back."
The rare and complex fetal surgery would close the opening.
“During fetal surgery she is partially born," Joseph explained. "On the 25th week of gestation, they basically repair her spine in utero compared to waiting to when she was to term.”
For the remaining 3 months of pregnancy, the entire family lived in Philadelphia to be close to specialists.
Seeing the success 4 years later, it makes sense why before Mason was even born the Josephs decided to help other families who need financial support to get the same care.
That’s how they created the nonprofit called Mason’s Voice.
Their 4th annual fishing tournament raised 70,000 in August which helps another family able to get the medical help they need.
“The world is such a better place with little people like Mason!” Joseph said.
In 4 years, Mason’s Voice has sponsored 6 families.
While the surgery is not a cure for spina bifida, if successful it is life changing.