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A large, fluid-filled mass was discovered in Arthur’s chest while he was still in his mother’s womb. The doctors near the family’s home in New York City didn’t have much experience with the condition, so they sought a second opinion at CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. Arthur was born in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit and underwent two surgeries in his first two months of life. “It was very scary,” recalls his mother, Annemarie. “When you are that vulnerable, you need to feel that the people you are with know what they are doing.” Today, Arthur is a bright, thriving, 5-year-old boy who loves robots, transformers and puzzles. He is learning to read and swim, and is a caring big brother.
When Emily was 10 and small for her age, concern about the function of her pituitary gland began a medical journey that led to CHOP, where she was ultimately diagnosed with a brain tumor. Emily and her mother, Cathy, relocated from North Jersey to Philadelphia for eight weeks of daily proton radiation, a treatment that destroys tumors using highly precise beams. Now 17, Emily’s high school life has been filled with honors courses, varsity cheerleading and periodic trips to CHOP for monitoring. In the fall, she’s headed to college to study architecture.
As a toddler, Gabby was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery removed most of the tumor, and then — at the suggestion of a concerned mother who’d gone through a similar experience — the family came to CHOP for the next treatment steps. “We saw so many other families going through what we were going through,” says Gabby’s father, Paul. “We finally felt we weren’t alone.” At CHOP, Gabby had another surgery, followed by chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Now a talkative 6-year-old, she and her parents drive from North Jersey to CHOP every few months for monitoring. “This is our second home,” says Paul.
At 4 weeks old, Harrison was on his way to the doctor’s office with his parents for a checkup when his health took a sudden and perilous turn. He had been born with a rare, undiagnosed congenital heart defect: anomalous left coronary from the pulmonary artery. The condition deprives the left side of the heart of oxygen, starving and weakening it. Harrison was rushed by helicopter to CHOP, where surgeons quickly identified and fixed the defect by performing a delicate open-heart surgery. Harrison’s first smile was in CHOP’s intensive care unit. He has since fully recovered, has a healthy heart, and is a bright and happy boy who loves to play and is learning to say his first words.
Kaitlyn was diagnosed with spina bifida in utero and underwent fetal surgery at CHOP to close the opening in her back. She’s been in therapy since she was 6 weeks old. In October 2019, she had a second surgery at CHOP to untether her spinal cord. Now 6 years old, Kaitlyn is paralyzed from the hip down and uses a wheelchair. She just started kindergarten and Girl Scouts, and loves makeup, playing with dolls and hanging out with her two brothers. “CHOP is lifesaving,” says her mom, Maryam.
An unusual reflection in Leo’s eye: that’s what alerted his parents, Paula and Joshua, that something was wrong. When all the local MRI facilities were booked, the New York City-based family turned to CHOP — and got an appointment the next day. Doctors discovered that a rare cancer had ravaged Leo’s eye. “At CHOP, everything was explained in ways we could understand,” says Paula. In February 2019, Leo’s eye was removed, followed by several months of chemotherapy. When Leo, now 3, returned to school, the family celebrated. “It was so good to see him back to doing normal things,” says Paula.
Diagnosed at birth with a severe complex congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Olivia received the first two of three planned surgeries in Dallas, Texas, before her family relocated back to its hometown in New Jersey. “Changing surgeons was scary,” says her mother, Christina. “Our surgeons in Dallas were so supportive and told us, ‘You can’t go anywhere better than CHOP.'” Olivia had her third open-heart surgery at CHOP at the age of 3. Now 14, she wants one day to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon — at CHOP, of course.