Former fetal patients celebrate their second chances at life

CHOP reunion bonds young patients, families, surgeons

Justin Udo
June 03, 2018 - 2:11 pm
More than 2,000 people from all over the country — former patients and members of surgical teams — celebrated the 22nd annual Fetal Family Reunion at CHOP's University City campus Sunday.

Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia welcomed back some former patients to celebrate a second chance at life.

More than 2,000 people from all over the country — former patients and members of surgical teams — celebrated the 22nd annual Fetal Family Reunion at CHOP's University City campus Sunday.

"We're celebrating their care," said Scott Adzick, CHOP surgeon-in-chief and founder of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. "Prenatally diagnosed birth defects, some treated with fetal surgery, some treated at the time of birth, many more treated immediately after birth."

Adzick said it's a joy to see former patients come together to ride rides, play games, have fun and, most importantly, live life.

"This is my favorite day of the year because it's a day of celebration to share with those families," he added. "If you operate and save the life of a child, you save a lifetime, so what can be better than that?"

Alicia Alphonse's daughter, Sophia Rose, was diagnosed with spina bifida while she was pregnant.  

She received fetal surgery at CHOP, and Sophia was born without complications.

"It's really a miracle," Alphonse said. "It's lifesaving for our children to see that they have the ability to live normal lives and do whatever they want. They can live their dreams."

Alicia Alphonse (left) and Nicole Markillie's daughters were both diagnosed with spina bifida while they were pregnant.
Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

She said the day feels like a family reunion because it put them in a network with others going through the same thing.

"It's definitely given us hope," she said. "It's nice to have CHOP give us the ability to make friends that have the same stories and to have our kids grow together."

Nicole Markillie and her daughter also suffered from spina bifida while in the womb.

Not only did CHOP perform fetal surgery on her daughter, but they put Markillie in touch with others going through similar situations.

"I needed another family to talk to. I was by myself, a single mom," she recalled. "I wouldn't be able to do it without others because I don't have family of my own really, so the community here is what got me through."