On its website, Twice Born promises viewers “an intimate, inside look” into the Special Delivery Unit at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Fetal surgeries are rare and difficult procedures performed while a child is still inside their mother’s womb.
In a series this past December called “Life Pioneers”, The Daily Signal reported on the miracle of fixing birth defects before birth—the lifesaving technique known as fetal surgery.
Dr. N. Scott Adzick, the surgeon-in-chief of CHOP, told The Daily Signal that Twice Born is a “compelling” story, showing the perspectives of doctors, nurses and families.
Adzick, a pioneer in fetal surgery, is also the founder and director of the hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. According to CHOP, the center is “the world’s largest fetal surgery program.” Since its founding 20 years ago, the hospital has performed over 1,250 fetal surgeries.
CHOP had previously only allowed retrospective portrayals of their patients undergoing fetal surgery. They were “leery” of allowing “vulnerable parents making a gut-wrenching decision to be portrayed in a sensationalized way.”
But Adzick says that because the fetal surgery field is now “established” and the procedures peer-reviewed, CHOP felt that with “strong and resilient” patients, the story could be told.
He said that having cameras around didn’t bother him “in the least.”
“In the operating room, I’m completely focused,” Adzick said. “I don’t even notice them there.”
He said that the documentary will help “spread awareness” of fetal surgery, and “generate interest” in the procedure.
“There’s new hope for a previously impossible field,” he said.
Monica Lange, the executive producer and director of Twice Born, told The Daily Signal that the story is a “parable of parental love” showing “what a parent will go through for their child.”
“I’ve been interested in fetal surgery for a while, and I was waiting for the right time to tell the story,” Lange said.
Lange determined that the new scientific field of fetal surgery had “matured” to the point where it was possible to do a film.
Thanks in part to a gift from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, she said, Twice Born became a reality.
Her team made a “huge commitment” by spending over a year at CHOP.
“We stayed there and told the stories of doctors and families all the way through,” Lange said.
Lange called the filming process “physically exhausting and emotionally draining, but extremely rewarding.”
After so much time spent with the families, Lange said, the filmmakers became friends with them, sharing in their “ups and downs.”
“I was going through this with friends,” Lange said. “You get very close to them.”
Fetal surgery is complex and difficult, and Lange cautioned that not every story has a happy outcome.
“It’s very emotional,” Lange said. “It’s a hankies story.”
Lange said she hopes viewers feel “engaged, astonished and connected to the characters.”
“This is a very fascinating field of medicine that people should know about that very few people do,” Lange said.
The three-part documentary premieres Tuesday night in most markets at 8:00 EST/7:00 CTl on PBS. The additional episodes will air on April 7 and 14. Check your local listings here.