When PBS aired the awe-inspiring show "TWICE BORN: Stories from the Special Delivery Unit" in March 2015, it was the world’s first-ever look behind the scenes of CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT). The gripping three-part series shares the stories of four families with high-risk pregnancies who journey to CHOP from across the country for help and hope not available elsewhere.
Viewers are brought face-to-face with the gut-wrenching decisions these parents must make regarding their unborn babies’ maladies. They witness never-before-televised footage of fetal surgery — when a baby is operated on while still in the womb — a medical marvel possible at CHOP thanks to the work of pioneering clinicians and the support of visionary donors.
The show spotlights the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU) — the linchpin of the CFDT and a life-changer for the many families it serves. The SDU was opened in 2008 thanks to a lead gift from Lynne and Bill Garbose, and it is the first unit of its kind exclusively to care for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. It includes a special operating room designed specifically for fetal surgery and is equipped to provide full labor and delivery care. Delivering in the unit means that families are able to stay together under one roof and bond as mother and baby recover.
The life-altering impact of the Garboses’ gift has inspired support from many families that have experienced the anguish of a prenatal diagnosis of a birth defect. David Lambert and Kristen Learner are one such family.
After learning prenatally that one of the twins they were expecting had a lung lesion, they looked on the Internet for information and came across a patient story on the CFDT website about a now-healthy twin, Max, with the same diagnosis. Lambert was amazed to realize that the boy’s father, Jeff Nazzaro, was a former colleague. He reached out to Nazzaro — a member of the Board of Visitors for CHOP’s Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery, a group of passionate individuals who are public ambassadors for the Hospital — who connected the couple to the CFDT team.
The family relocated from Florida, and the CFDT team monitored the remainder of the pregnancy and surgically removed Hunter’s lung lesion in the days after his and his sister Harlan’s birth in the SDU. Today, the brother and sister are healthy 18-month-olds and are expected to lead a full life. Grateful parents Lambert and Learner recently made a significant commitment to support the SDU and the work of their surgeon, Holly Hedrick, MD, so that more families like theirs and those featured in the documentary can get the hope and help they need.
To view Twice Born or to learn how you can support the Center, visit chop.edu/pbsfetal