Fetal Surgery Patient Reunion in Washington, D.C., Hosted by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Families, including patients treated while still in the womb, reunite with their doctors and nurses

Published on in CHOP News

Group photo of Fetal Reunion participants Today, the Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) brought together a community of CHOP patients and families from our nation’s capital and the surrounding area. The reunion, which took place at Washington’s Newseum, gathered more than 200 people and provided an opportunity for patients to reconnect with their medical teams and others who have experienced similar struggles. All patients in attendance either underwent fetal surgery in our Center to treat conditions before birth, or received highly specialized care immediately following birth.

This reunion is an extension of CHOP’s annual Fetal Family Reunion, which for the past 20 years has gathered thousands from across the U.S. and takes place at the Hospital each June. This past year over 1,800 people from 22 states attended and nearly all of the children there were prenatally diagnosed with a birth defect, such as spina bifida, twin-twin transfusion syndrome or congenital diaphragmatic hernia. The Washington reunion served as a way for members from the CHOP team to connect with patients in a smaller setting in a location closer to their homes.

“Every patient that is treated in our Center requires highly specialized care, many times before they are even born,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment. “Occasions like today are inspirational and offer a reminder of why we do what we do. As I look out at the children in attendance — many running, jumping and playing — I can’t help but feel grateful to their families who entrusted us with their care, and feel a sense of pride that we played a part in their lives.”

The D.C. reunion was an opportunity for clinical staff and patient families to reunite and enjoy a fun-filled family day at the Newseum, a popular museum destination. Patients who attended the reunion ranged from just several months old to some of the Center’s first patients who are now teenagers.

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment at CHOP is a pioneer in the field of fetal medicine, and is one of only a few programs worldwide to offer comprehensive prenatal diagnosis, fetal surgery and therapy, and the option of delivering at a leading pediatric hospital.

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.

Note to reporters

To arrange an interview with Washington, D.C., area patients in attendance or with a fetal medicine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, please contact Ashley Moore at 215-630-4683 or Moorea1@email.chop.edu. She can provide family stories about now-healthy children who underwent fetal surgery, or other complex care after birth at CHOP. 

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