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July 13, 2014, 9:16 am

Special unit at CHOP reaches 1000 deliveries

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has marked another major milestone.

CHOP celebrated the 1000th delivery in the world’s first birth facility exclusively for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects.

Babies who are delivered in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit are prenatally diagnosed with birth defects such as spina bifida or congenital heart disease and will either undergo fetal surgery to treat the condition before birth or need immediate specialized care after birth.

The 1000th delivery was a newborn prenatally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Kathy Banks of New Britain, Pa., was nine weeks into her pregnancy when she and her husband Andrew learned they were expecting twins. Their 20-week ultrasound raised some concerns about one of the twin’s hearts, and their doctor referred the Banks to CHOP’s Fetal Heart Program for further evaluation. CHOP’s team found that although Banks’ daughter was developing normally, their son had Tetralogy of Fallot, a serious structural malformation of the heart.

“I was immediately devastated. My first thought was, ‘What is the mortality rate?’” Banks said.

“They were able to tell me it was fixable and he would need open heart surgery. It’s just scary for a newborn to have that procedure.”

However after CHOP’s team gave her the details about the procedure, Banks said she had no reservations about delivering at CHOP and having the baby undergo surgery.

“I’m just happy about the level of expertise that I am able to get at CHOP. It was really refreshing to know that I could deliver and he’d be nearby,” says Banks.

Obstetrician Jodi Slepian and her team performed a cesarean delivery in the early hours of March 20 and the babies were born eight weeks early. Angela Rose and Liam Andrew Banks were born within seconds of each other, both only weighing a little over three pounds. Liam was born pink and active. He undergoes heart surgery at CHOP in a few weeks.

Dr. Jack Rychik, director of the Fetal Heart Program, said babies diagnosed with birth defects in utero and their moms need specialized obstetrical services, including prenatal and delivery care.

“Without the Special Delivery Unit and the immediate care offered by experienced specialists in pediatric cardiology and neonatology all under one roof, the Banks’ outcome could have been much different,” Rychik said.

According to Dr. Julie S. Moldenhauer, CHOP Maternal Fetal Medicine/Reproductive Genetics specialist and medical director of the Special Delivery Unit, approximately one in 33 babies are diagnosed with a birth defect each year.

“Traditionally these mothers will give birth in one hospital and their newborn will be transferred to a specialized pediatric hospital shortly after delivery. The Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit changed that by allowing for mother and baby to be simultaneously cared for at one institution by a team with great experience and expertise,” Moldenhauer said.

The Special Delivery Unit opened in 2008 and is a delivery arm of CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, which has been providing care for women expecting babies diagnosed with fetal conditions for more than 16 years. Established in 1995, the center has welcomed more than 12,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

The eight-bed labor and delivery unit was the first of its kind to exclusively care for babies born with a wide range of birth defects, genetic conditions and fetal conditions unique to complicated twin pregnancies.

“When we opened the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, we anticipated that this unique, multidisciplinary approach would improve outcomes for mother and baby before, during and after birth,” said Dr. N. Scott Adzick, surgeon-in-chief at CHOP and medical director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

The Special Delivery Unit is named after the Garbose Family. In 1988, during a routine pregnancy ultrasound, Lynne and Bill Garbose learned that their first baby, Emily, would be born with a very rare and fatal heart defect. She would require sophisticated care, and the Garboses were told that their only option would be for her to deliver the baby in a hospital near their home in Washington, D.C., and then have Emily transported to the pediatric hospital 30 minutes across town. Three days after she was born, Emily died in her father’s arms.

When the Garboses returned to Philadelphia and met with Adzick and Lori Howell they learned about their vision to create a delivery unit within CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. They provided the lead gift to create the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit.

“On the occasion of the Special Delivery Unit’s 1000th delivery, we are so proud to be associated with the dedicated, multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses and other staff who work there,” said Lynne Garbose, a CHOP board member.

“We remember vividly the afternoon many years ago when Dr. Adzick and Lori Howell laid out their thoughts and plans for the world’s first special delivery unit. We and thousands of parents and their children are so grateful for their team’s vision, dedication and perseverance.”

 

Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .