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The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s 17th Annual Fetal Surgery Family Reunion Gathers Families from Across the U.S.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) June 23, 2013

Over 1,300 people from 16 states came together today at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to celebrate the 17th Annual Family Reunion hosted by the Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

The reunion brings together a unique community of families who have shared similar struggles. Nearly all of the children in attendance were prenatally diagnosed with a birth defect, such as spina bifida, congenital heart disease or twin-twin transfusion syndrome, that had potentially devastating outcomes. Babies diagnosed with these birth defects either underwent fetal surgery to treat the condition before birth or received immediate highly sophisticated care after birth.

“The Fetal Family Reunion is our team’s favorite day of the year,” said N. Scott Adzick, M.D., Surgeon-In-Chief at Children’s Hospital and Director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. “Since our first reunion in 1997, attendance has grown from just ten families to over 250 at today’s event. We care for families from all over the world, so this reunion is a great opportunity for our team to reunite with them and celebrate.”

Established in 1995, CHOP’s Center is now the largest and most comprehensive fetal program in the world, having welcomed nearly 15,000 expectant mothers from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

“This year is particularly special as we recently marked 1,000 fetal surgeries – highly complex surgical interventions to repair birth defects in the womb,” said Lori J. Howell, R.N., M.S.N., Executive Director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Each week at CHOP, highly sophisticated surgical teams repair spina bifida and other birth defects in the womb, place fetal shunts to treat life-threatening congenital conditions, or perform minimally invasive procedures in the mother’s uterus to treat complications in twins. Of approximately 4,000 fetal surgeries done worldwide, a quarter of them have been performed at CHOP, more than at any other hospital. The Center’s multidisciplinary staff has also managed thousands of pregnancies complicated by birth defects, in which newborns need immediate specialized medical care or surgery after delivery.

“This year also marks the fifth anniversary of our Center’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit,” said Julie S. Moldenhauer, M.D., Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and Medical Director of the SDU. “Established in 2008, the Unit was the world’s first birth facility specifically designed for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects.”

Babies born in the SDU either undergo fetal surgery or need immediate specialized postnatal care or surgery. Today, more than 1,460 babies, with many different fetal diagnoses, have been delivered in the Unit.

“It is truly inspiring to see so many children, who as babies likely could have died, now running around, growing up healthy and strong,” said Adzick. “And as the field of fetal surgery and therapy continues to advance, we look forward to treating more and more babies.”


About the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP
The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care. One of the only programs of its kind in the world, it offers a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up. Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed nearly 15,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Its multidisciplinary team brings decades of experience to the care and treatment of the fetus and the expectant mother. The Center has performed over 1,000 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery). For more information, visit

The Fetal Heart Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia specializes in the detection, evaluation and management of fetal heart defects prior to a baby’s birth. The team performs more than 3,300 fetal echocardiography studies annually, making it one of the largest fetal heart programs in the US. The program’s offerings include: state-of-the-art technology, planning for labor and delivery and complete care for the newborn after birth, access to the full Cardiac Center team and the most advanced fetal heart defect treatments available, including fetal heart interventions if necessary. The Cardiac Center performs more than 850 cardiothoracic surgeries per year and the Center’s outcomes are among the best in the world.

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