CHOP Urologists Lead 15 Years of Global Care at The U.S.-India Bladder Exstrophy Collaborative

Published on

bladder exstrophy group photo Every year, surgeons, anesthesiologists, social workers, and other healthcare providers from hospitals across the world gather with a common goal: to bring expert care to patients who travel from near and far seeking hope.  

The program, called the U.S. India Bladder Exstrophy Collaborative, was started in 2009 by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Urologist and Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery in the Division of Urology Aseem Shukla, MD along with his counterpart at Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Dr. Rakesh Joshi.

At this annual gathering, healthcare professionals provide free surgical repair and medical follow-up for patients with bladder exstrophy, a complex, rare disorder in fetuses in the womb in which, while the bladder is developing, the abdominal wall does not fully form, leaving the bladder unable to store urine. Over two weeks, the team performed 18 new bladder exstrophy repairs, redo repairs, and related urinary reconstructions, as well as saw more than 150 patients for follow-up care.

This year, five pediatric urologists representing four major academic children’s hospitals gathered at the Civil Hospital. Joining them were 20 surgeons, a geneticist, nurses, medical students, researchers, and patient advocates spanning countries like Brazil and Belgium, Ghana and Uzbekistan, Sudan, and Russia.

Dr. Shukla and Dr. Joshi liken this annual workshop to a pilgrimage – dozens of surgeons, nurses, researchers from all over the world immerse themselves in an intense period of learning, observing, and operating all for the advancement of bladder exstrophy treatment for children across the globe.

surgeon group photo Alongside Dr. Shukla were his CHOP partner surgeon, Dana Weiss, MD, orthopedic surgeon, David Horn, MD, and pediatric urology fellow Karl Godlewski, MD, who all boarded the plane back to Philadelphia with a renewed sense of gratitude that they, along with their team, were able to bring expertise in the care of bladder exstrophy beyond the United States.

“What I really enjoy is seeing those patients back and seeing the impact that our work has had on them,” says Dr. Shukla. “What’s unique about this model is our high patient retention, and the commitment of our partners at Civil Hospital in bringing back children we’ve operated upon from various parts of the world, back to Civil Hospital every single year for us to see them once again—there is no better way to treat bladder exstrophy as it is a lifelong process of dealing with this condition.”

This past January was Dr. Shukla’s first trip back to Civil Hospital without his mentor and partner, Doug Canning, MD, since Dr. Canning’s passing in May of 2022. Dr. Canning served as chief of the Division of Urology at CHOP for 25 years, and the pair had traveled to India together for eight years.

“Even though Dr. Canning wasn’t there,” Shukla says, “his impact in Ahmedabad is tangible and lasting in the lives of the patients he had operated on in years past. One young man whose exstrophy Dr. Canning repaired is healing so well from his surgery and demonstrating continence with normal voiding that the family insisted that we take their photo and share with Dr. Canning’s partners.”

“They told me they bow down to a photo of Doug almost every day to thank God that he was sent to take care of their son and to improve their lives,” says Dr. Shukla.

If you wish to help fulfill Dr. Canning’s vision of an endowed fund and to honor his legacy in bladder exstrophy, please use the link below to make a donation.

Donate now

Next Steps
Mom holding infant daughter

Your Child's Urology Surgery

Find information to help you prepare for your child's upcoming urology surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Boy smiling

Why Choose Us

The Division of Urology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is consistently ranked as one of the top pediatric urology programs in the nation.