Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Gathers Families for Annual Fetal Surgery Family Reunion

Published on in CHOP News

Group photo at 2017 Fetal Family Reunion Over 2,000 people from more than 24 states came together today at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to celebrate the 21st annual Fetal Surgery Family Reunion hosted by the Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment (CFDT).

One in every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect. Many times, these conditions are so rare most parents have never heard of them and even some clinicians may only encounter one or two cases throughout the duration of their career. Too often families are unaware that a place like CHOP exists.

The reunion brought together a unique community of families who share the common bond of receiving a birth defect diagnosis prenatally. Conditions such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or twin-twin transfusion syndrome have potentially devastating outcomes, but the Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment at CHOP is a pioneer in the field, increasingly treating more birth defects with either fetal surgery or by providing complex care immediately after birth. 

“Each year, the fetal family reunion serves as a visual testament to the advancements made in fetal medicine,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-In-Chief at CHOP and director of the CFDT. “To reflect back to our first reunion 21 years ago, with only 10 families in attendance, and to look at how far we’ve come, is both humbling and inspiring. It is a privilege to care for these patients and their families.”

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. The staff has cared for more than 20,000 expectant parents from all 50 states and more than 60 countries.

“The reunion continues to be our most cherished day of the year,” said Lori J. Howell, RN, MSN, DNP, Executive Director of the CFDT. “Knowing these children before they were even born, and getting to see how much they’ve grown up, is beyond rewarding. The reunion serves as a way to celebrate many obstacles these children have overcome, and our team is so happy to celebrate with them and their families.”

Meet some of these families and see highlights from the event.


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 fetal twins. Of approximately 5,000 fetal surgeries done worldwide, a quarter of them have been performed at CHOP, more than at any other hospital. The Center staff has also managed thousands of pregnancies complicated by birth defects in which newborns need immediate specialized medical care or surgery after delivery. Learn more about our Center.

Screenshot of CFDT tour video

Tour our Fetal Center

Watch this video tour to learn what to expect at your first visit to the Wood Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Pregnant Mom and Child

What to Expect

From the moment of referral through delivery and postnatal care, your family can expect a supportive experience when you come to us with a diagnosis of a birth defect.