Fetal Surgery Milestone: Oberio Family Story

After learning that their unborn daughter had myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida, Jackie and Gideon Oberio traveled from their home in Baltimore, Md. to seek treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, home to the world’s most experienced fetal diagnosis and therapy team. In March 2013, Jackie and their unborn daughter, Audrey, underwent fetal surgery to repair the hole in Audrey’s spine. On May 28, 2013, Audrey was delivered in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit.

The family documented their experiences in a series of videos. Watch the video below to meet CHOP’s 1,000th fetal surgery patient and follow the Oberios on their journey. (Update: Find out how Audrey is doing today!)


CHOP Celebrates Birth of 1,000th Fetal Surgery Patient

Gideon Oberio, Father: So it's your last day in our house for a couple months.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Yes.

Gideon Oberio, Father: I love you.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Love you, too. Ready to walk with me?

Gideon Oberio, Father: Yep.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Little Miss Audrey, we are on our way to the hospital in Philadelphia, about an hour and 45 minutes away. And you should know that you and I are in an elite club because we're having surgery at the same time, together, literally in the same room. That makes us special.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Love you, Audrey.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Yes, Daddy loves you.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Okay, twelve minutes, and we are getting ready to go to your surgery, our surgery. It's 5:15 in the morning. We love you. Everything's going to be okay.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Love you, Audrey.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: We're about a little over an hour away from when I go back for your surgery. Felt you moving this morning, so I know you're ready to go. Mommy's very scared for both of us, putting us in God's hands today. We have some awesome doctors here, and we're nervous. So Mommy's going to do her best, and you do your best, and you stay in there till, like, 37 weeks. That would be great, okay? We love you.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Love you, too.

Gideon Oberio, Father: We're about an hour and 45 minutes post-op. How do you feel?

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Cold. Not as bad as I thought I would.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Do you have anything to say to Audrey?

Jackie Oberio, Mother: We did it. We're going to keep doing it. I think I just felt a Little Miss Audrey move down there, which makes me happy, because this is the scary part, waiting now.

Gideon Oberio, Father: So it's 2 o'clock the day after surgery, and—

Jackie Oberio, Mother: P.M.

Gideon Oberio, Father: P.M. This is the first thing Jackie's been able to eat—

Jackie Oberio, Mother: With flavor.

Gideon Oberio, Father: With flavor. How is it?

Jackie Oberio, Mother: It's the best popsicle I've ever had in my whole life, ever.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Tell Audrey you love her.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: You love her.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Love you, Audrey.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: I love you, Audrey. Oh, Daddy. I'm feeling a lot better. Look at me. I'm laying on my side. You're feeling better, too, because you're starting to kick around in there, and I'm feeling really good about everything. I think that it's going to be awesome, and I'm really excited. And I'm going to use that excitement to get me through the next couple of months of laying here. I just love you so much, and I hope you know, when you're 16 and you're stomping your feet— and you will stomp your feet. I've got this feeling you're going to be able to stomp your feet. You better look at me, and you better say, "You know what, Mommy? Thank you for doing that surgery so I could stomp my stubborn little feet."

Jackie Oberio, Mother: And still on strict bed rest, but it's okay. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. I sleep a lot, and I, you know, get Daddy to wait on me hand and foot. And we got good news yesterday at the doctor's, and everything is looking good. Little Miss in there went like this with both ankles, and then you went like this with your little, fat toes.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: And we are back in the hospital, but it's okay. Mommy sprung a little leak, and now they have to watch us to make sure that you have enough fluid in there. And you're doing great. You're moving around, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Daddy loves you so much.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Yeah.

Gideon Oberio, Father: We love you, Audrey.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Love you.

Gideon Oberio, Father: Stay in there, okay?

Jackie Oberio, Mother: I want to film you. Daddy is never on camera, and one day she's going to look at this and say,"Where was my father?"

Gideon Oberio, Father: I didn't want to be on camera.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Well, you think I do?

Gideon Oberio, Father: So…

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Keep talking. What, it was easy to speak when you were behind it, right?

Gideon Oberio, Father: It was. It was. You're being a rock star. Keep being a rock star. We love you. Hey guys.

Nurses: Hi Audrey.

Nurses: Welcome.

Nurses: It's nice to meet you. Audrey, this is Dr. Adzick, and he is your surgeon.

N. Scott Adzick, MD: You've forgotten that Audrey and I have already met. Okay. All right. Big day coming up, big day.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Yay, here she comes. [cheering] We got a baby.

Unknown speaker: It's alright, there she is. [baby crying]

Unknown speaker: Alright cutie, welcome to the world.

Jackie Oberio, Mother: Oh, I guess you're not going to wait until you're a teenager to stomp your feet, huh? Yeah.

Topics Covered: Fetal Surgery for Spina Bifida (Myelomeningocele) Spina Bifida Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Related Centers and Programs: Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment