Pelosi Celebrates Opening of New Fetal Treatment Center

Talking to US Rep. Nancy Pelosi are, from left, mother Ann Gorath and Roxanne, who is three months old.

Called a "stalwart supporter" of health care at UCSF and throughout the nation, US Representative Nancy Pelosi joined UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret recently to inaugurate the new UCSF Fetal Treatment Center. Pelosi's $500,000 federal appropriation helped make the center at UCSF Children's Hospital possible. "It is a great pleasure to see this great institution produce this great miracle," Pelosi said to an audience of about 75 observers. "Every family is one diagnosis away from needing a miracle. So, for the tremendous respect that UCSF commands, but most importantly for the children, for the families, for the hope, for the future, I am tremendously honored to be part of this, and I commend all who have been involved in it over time." See video clip of Pelosi. Considered the father of fetal surgery, Michael Harrison, MD, director of the Fetal Treatment Center at UCSF Children's Hospital, also took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 24. He said that the Fetal Treatment Center became a reality because of the support of UCSF, its talented faculty and staff, and patients who were unselfishly willing to be studied to help advance scientific knowledge and patient care. See video clip of Harrison. "When we started, this was an immensely wonderful, but incredibly fragile enterprise. What allowed it to flourish here was the institutional setting and the support of UCSF. And, we often forget the role of patients. What they're looking for is hope, but they volunteer to be studied so that others may have hope," Harrison said. Laret thanked Pelosi for her efforts supporting UCSF's health sciences mission. "As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Pelosi has been a stalwart supporter of increased investments in medical research and she secured funding to double the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for which the UCSF scientific community is profoundly grateful," Laret said. "We also appreciate that you've taken the time and energy to help us at UCSF Medical Center and our children's hospital to secure funding for this Fetal Treatment Center that will spell the difference between life and death, health and illness for thousands and thousands of children," Laret said. Center of Innovation This year is the 25th anniversary of the first open fetal surgery in the world, performed under Harrison's leadership. In 1981, a UCSF team performed the first surgery on a fetus in utero, ushering in a new era of fetal intervention for life-threatening medical problems. The UCSF Fetal Treatment Center is world-renowned for its expertise and innovation in treating a host of complex and potentially fatal congenital defects in utero, integrating specialists in surgery, genetics, obstetrics and perinatology, radiology, nursing and neonatal medicine together in a top-notch team to provide patients and referring physicians with one place for fetal treatment from initial diagnosis through long term follow-up.
At the March 24 ribbon-cutting of the new Fetal Treatment Center are, from left, Diana Farmer, chief of pediatric surgery, US Rep. Nancy Pelosi, pediatric surgeon Michael Harrison and Mina Mangewala and her daughter, Arissa.
Several families whose children were monitored while in utero also were present at the event. Ann Gorath delivered baby daughter Roxanne in December of 2005. She was followed by the Fetal Treatment Center team for a congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation or CCAM, a tumor on her lung. Diana Farmer, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery, removed the tumor earlier this month. Roxanne's father Curtis said the experience couldn't have been better. Mother and daughter are both doing well. The Goraths live in Rohnert Park. "We're just amazed at the quality of the care we received and how we were treated as individuals," said Curtis Gorath. "At the Fetal Treatment Center, everyone was so supportive -- from the physicians, to the nursing staff, to the ultrasound technicians -- it was amazing. Everybody smiles; everybody asks how you're doing at home -- even the receptionists," he said. "It was a unique medical experience." Mina Mangewala also delivered her daughter Arissa last December. Arissa was treated for gastroschisis, an opening in the abdominal wall that allows the intestines to protrude outside the baby. "My husband and I both thought it was incredible care," the Hayward mother said. "We really felt respected every day that we were there. "It wasn't just about taking care of Arissa," Mangewala said. "It was about making sure that (my husband) Rob and I were okay so that we could take care of Arissa. They were incredible." Pelosi has represented California's Eighth District in the House of Representatives since 1987. Overwhelmingly elected by her colleagues in the fall of 2002 as Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, Pelosi is the first woman in American history to lead a major party in the US Congress. Pelosi is a longtime friend of UCSF and of health care generally. She has been a strong proponent of increased investments in health research, and has secured funding to double the budget for the NIH. Source: Phyllis Brown Photos by Christine Jegan Video by Paul Lundahl, eMotion Studios Links: Father of Fetal Surgery Looks Ahead (story and podcast) UCSF Fetal Treatment Center UCSF Children's Hospital