By the time Audrey Rose Oberio took her first breath, she had already undergone major surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She was also born to instant CHOP celebrity as the 1,000th fetal surgery patient at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.
Nineteen weeks into Audrey’s gestation, her parents, Jackie and Gideon, learned Audrey had a severe form of spina bifida, a birth defect in which part of the developing spine fails to close. Spina bifida can cause paralysis and many other problems.
However, CHOP offered the family the hope of an improved quality of life for their daughter: a procedure to repair spina bifida before birth that was pioneered by N. Scott Adzick, MD, CHOP surgeon-in-chief and medical director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, and his team.
Addressing spina bifida by operating on the baby in the womb, months before birth, can improve neurologic function and increase the likelihood that a child would be able to walk independently.
In March, CHOP surgeons operated on both Jackie and her unborn child and successfully closed the opening in Audrey’s spine. That important day in the Oberios’ lives also marked the 1,000th fetal surgery at CHOP. Since Adzick founded the center in 1995, it has cared for more than 15,000 expectant families and performed more surgeries in the womb than any other hospital.
On May 28, Audrey was born in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit at a healthy 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Although it is too soon to know how spina bifida may affect Audrey, her doctors expect her to live a full, normal life. (Update: Find out how Audrey is doing today!)
— Eugene Myers