At her 20 week ultrasound, Michele, Mary Cate’s mother, learned that Mary Cate had Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect that occurs when the bones of the spine do not form properly around the baby’s spinal cord. Immediately, she came to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Just four weeks later, Michele underwent surgery to close the opening in Mary Cate’s spine at CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. The surgery requires expert care for both Mom and the unborn baby, while still in her Mom’s uterus. At 29 weeks, Mary Cate was born at 3.5 pounds and showed movement in her legs and full healing from the surgery. During her 73-day stay at the hospital, Child Life helped Michele explain to her 3 year old son, Joseph, that Mary Cate needed to be at the hospital “to grow”.
Now 19 months old, Mary Cate continues to grow and show progress. With physical and occupational therapy, she is now talking, crawling, and is showing good movement from her hips to toes.