Patients, families and staff gather at CHOP's Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment for the 22nd Family Reunion. Today, more than 2,000 people, including patients and families from over 22 states, found an important reason to return to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) — the Annual Fetal Surgery Family Reunion. The event, hosted by the Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment (CFDT), provided an opportunity for those treated in the Center to reconnect with their clinicians and other families who share an inexplicable bond.
In the United states, one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. It is essential that they receive care at a facility fully equipped to provide comprehensive care, including prenatal diagnosis, delivery, and treatment, but sometimes conditions are so uncommon that families and even some providers have never heard of them. This, above all, underscores the importance of being treated at a place like the CFDT, where intervention often begins before birth and no condition is viewed as too rare. The CFDT is a pioneer in the field, increasingly treating more birth defects, such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or twin-twin transfusion syndrome, with either fetal surgery or by providing complex care immediately after birth.
"Favorite day of the year"
“The Fetal Family Reunion continues to be my favorite day of the year,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-In-Chief at CHOP and director of the CFDT. “To think how this event has grown in size over 22 years is a true testament to the team in our Center. We see children and their families return year after year. It is humbling, rewarding and reaffirms our mission as a world-class institution.”
For many, this yearly event is an opportunity for families to celebrate their own breakthroughs and reflect on how truly far they’ve come. Jackie and Gideon Oberio, parents of five-year-old Audrey Oberio, know this all too well. Jackie was 19 weeks pregnant with Audrey when she received the news that the baby had spina bifida. The Oberios nearly lost hope before discovering the CFDT, where the team determined they were candidates for fetal surgery. Jackie and Audrey underwent surgery in early March of 2013 and Audrey was born on May 28, 2013. She was the CFDT’s 1,000th fetal surgery patient.
“As we stand here today, right outside the very building where we received the news that we qualified for fetal surgery, the same building Audrey was born in, watching her laugh and play, we can’t help but feel emotional and so grateful to the entire team.” said Jackie. “It has been an incredible journey and Audrey continues to amaze us with how fast and how much she's progressed."
The Center’s large patient volume, coupled with the diversity of patients seen each day, gives the team at CHOP a depth and breadth of experience that helps to offer the best possible care. To- date, staff has cared for more than 20,000 expectant parents from all 50 states and more than 70 countries. The CFDT is also home to the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The SDU addresses an important need in maternal-fetal medicine by allowing mother and baby to be simultaneously cared for in one medical center by a highly specialized, multidisciplinary team.
“It is truly inspiring to see so many children, who as babies likely could have died, now growing up healthy and strong,” said Lori J. Howell, DNP, MSN, RN, Executive Director of the CFDT and, as of July 1, 2018, the inaugural recipient of CHOP’s new Lynne L. Garbose Endowed Chair in Fetal Family Care. “As the field of fetal medicine continues to advance, we look forward to treating more and more babies and continuing to watch this event grow each year.”