Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Celebrates 26th Annual Fetal Surgery Family Reunion at the Philadelphia Zoo

Published on in CHOP News

Today, more than 3,000 people gathered at the Philadelphia Zoo to celebrate the 26th Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Fetal Family Reunion, with patients and families from more than 20 states attending the first in-person reunion in two years. The event, hosted by CHOP’s Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT), provided an opportunity for those treated in the center to reconnect with their care team and other families who share an indescribable bond.

2022 Fetal Reunion 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 diaphragmatic hernia, or twin-twin transfusion syndrome, that had potentially devastating outcomes. Babies diagnosed with these birth defects before birth either underwent fetal surgery to treat the condition before birth or received highly complex care immediately after birth.

"It is truly inspiring to see so many children, who as babies likely could have died, now running around and growing up healthy and strong," said N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-In-Chief at CHOP and Director of the CFDT. “The Fetal Family Reunion has always been my favorite day of the year, but it carries even more significance today to gather in-person together once again.”

CHOP’s Fetal Family Reunion has been an annual occurrence since 1997 and has grown from a handful of attendees the first year to more than 650 families today. CHOP’s CFDT is a pioneer in the field of fetal medicine and is one of only a few programs worldwide to offer comprehensive care, including prenatal diagnosis, fetal surgery and therapy, and the option of delivering at a leading pediatric hospital.

“Babies with special needs require highly specialized and experienced care, both before and after birth. The families gathered here today represent an important segment of the more than 28,000 expectant mothers, from all 50 states and over 70 countries, we've treated in our center,” said Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD, Obstetrical Director of the CFDT and Medical Director of CHOP's Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit. "The high volume of patients we see from around the world with incredibly complex, rare conditions makes all the difference in achieving favorable outcomes and allows us to offer hope and support to so many families."

Each week at CHOP, surgical teams perform highly sophisticated procedures, such as spina bifida closure and interventions other birth defects in the womb, placing fetal shunts to treat life-threatening congenital conditions and performing minimally invasive procedures in the mother’s uterus to treat various complications. The team has also managed thousands of pregnancies complicated by birth defects in which newborns need immediate specialized medical care or surgery after delivery.

Watch the video below for highlights from our favorite day of the year!

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.

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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.


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