At 27, Elizabeth was a bit older than the rest of the patients wearing orange t-shirts for the 15th Annual Fetal Family reunion. She’s also a newcomer to the group of patients helped by CHOP.
Pregnant for the second time, Elizabeth learned her unborn child had spina bifida, the most common birth defect of the central nervous system, affecting about 1,500 babies born in the U.S. each year.
The Philly Phanatic welcomed Elizabeth to her first fetal family reunion. Pregnant with her second child, Elizabeth recently underwent prenatal surgery for spina bifida at CHOP. Both Elizabeth and husband Christopher are active members of the U.S. Army. For more photos from the reunion, see our slide show.
It was the U.S. Army that suggested Elizabeth and her husband Christopher, both active military personnel, travel to CHOP to be evaluated for prenatal surgery for spina bifida.
Experts at CHOP co-led a landmark study showing that fetal surgery for spina bifida improves outcomes.
The Wisconsin couple had been stationed in Alabama, so moving to Philadelphia was a significant obstacle, but one they met with the help of CHOP.
On June 1, a large multidisciplinary team led by N. Scott Adzick, MD, performed prenatal surgery for spina bifida on Elizabeth and her unborn child. Elizabeth stayed in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit for a few days. Then she was connected with Hosts for Hospitals, a nonprofit agency that provides free lodging and support at volunteer-host homes to patients who come to the Philadelphia area for specialized medical care.
“It’s been such an amazing experience in every aspect,” Elizabeth said of her time in Philadelphia. “The doctors have been amazing. The nurses have been amazing. My stay in the Special Delivery Unit was amazing. And now, it’s amazing to find people who will let us stay with them.”
Elizabeth feels confident her unborn child with spina bifida is in the best hands with the team at CHOP. And she knows her 14-month-old daughter is safe with both sets of grandparents in Wisconsin.
“What I’m really freaked out about now is having two kids so close together,” she said, laughing.