Summer 2005

Pelosi gains $500,000 for UCSF Fetal Treatment Center

An appropriation of $500,000 from Congress will help fund capital costs for the Fetal Treatment Center at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) requested the appropriation for the children's birth defects center as part of the fiscal year 2005 Omnibus Spending Bill. UCSF's fetal treatment team is renowned for pioneering fetal surgery and for a continuing search for new methods to detect, cure, ameliorate and prevent birth defects. The new funds support a centralized location in UCSF's Ambulatory Care Center for advanced prenatal and postnatal care for mothers, their babies with birth defects and their families.

"Congresswoman Pelosi's support for this center is an indication of her concern for a better future for children and their families," said Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "This will allow our specialists, already leaders in care for women and children, to have even better tools for helping these patients."

Michael R. Harrison, M.D., a founder of the field of fetal surgery and coordinating director of the center, said that the new center will integrate the efforts of some of the nation's most respected experts in prenatal diagnosis, high-risk pregnancy, neonatology, anesthesia, and fetal and newborn surgery.

"We are taking the old attitude toward birth defects, of 'wait and see,' and replacing it with the more optimistic 'What can we do?'" he said.

The UCSF fetal treatment team identifies serious birth defects before the infant is born, working with the mother and her doctors to plan ahead for care from the moment the baby is delivered. In a growing number of cases, the defect can be treated before birth. Harrison and his colleagues performed the world's first fetal surgery in 1981, and they continue to set the standards for this field.

The new facility, expected to open this fall, will include advanced diagnostic and treatment capabilities, as well as Web-based telemedicine.

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