Twice Born – Stories from the Special Delivery UnitTwice Born – Stories from the Special Delivery Unit

Twice Born – Stories from the Special Delivery Unit
premiered March 31, 2015

37th Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards Nominee
- Outstanding Science and Technology Programming

About the Show

Step inside the groundbreaking medical frontier that is fetal surgery with Twice Born, a gripping PBS mini-series that takes an intimate, inside look at the Special Delivery Unit at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where rare surgeries are done on babies still inside their mothers’ wombs.

A sonogram of a 21 week fetus, Twice BornA sonogram of a 21 week fetus.Rodgers Dameron

With exclusive access to the elite unit, (where the production crew was embedded for 15 months), you’ll live with the expecting parents who all face a gut-wrenching decision: should they take a leap of faith to repair birth defects with pre-natal surgery, even if it means they might lose their child? You’ll experience rarely seen, real-time footage of operations on the fetus. And, you’ll gain a window into the inner lives of an unusual team of doctors who have defied skeptics and chosen to pursue this high-risk/high-reward career path. Twice Born serves up both arresting human drama and astonishing medical science.

Read more about the episodes, parents and doctors below.

Stories From the Special Delivery Unit

Episode Guide

Episode 1  (Premiered March 31, 2015)
The premiere episode sets the stage for the intense and emotional stories to come. Dr. Scott Adzick, Surgeon-in-Chief at the elite Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and a pioneer of fetal surgery, explains his own conviction: if you can get to babies earlier, while they are still inside their mothers, you can stop some of the damage of birth defects before it is too late.

At the heart of the episode are the parents who journey from all over, hoping to find cures for their unborn babies’ maladies. Episode 1 introduces Lesly, a resourceful 23-year-old, single mother whose unborn baby has developed a massive tumor growing from her mouth. The episode includes never-before-seen operating room footage as Dr. Holly Hedrick performs a rare EXIT procedure and attempts to remove the tumor while the fetus is still attached to her mother. Meanwhile, Shelly and Bobby, a couple whose unborn child suffers from spina bifida, wait anxiously to find out if they are candidates for fetal surgery.

Meet the Parents

Lesly; couple Shelly and Bobby, Twice Born

Lesly, mother of a baby delivered via EXIT procedure.


Bobby and Shelly, parents of a baby who had fetal surgery for Spina Bifida.

Couple Tina and Brion; couple Geneva and Reggie, Twice Born

Tina and Brion, parents of twin babies diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion.


Geneva and Reggie, parents of a baby diagnosed with a bladder obstruction.

Episode 2  (Premiered April 7, 2015)
This episode revisits the dramatic story of Lesly and her newborn baby Lilly, as the doctors remove the remainder of the child’s tumor. Meanwhile, when their unborn twins are diagnosed with Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Tina and Brion make an urgent visit to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The realities of life in the Special Delivery Unit become clear when the doctors deliver unexpected news to the couple. Bobby waits anxiously for the results of the pivotal surgery Shelly and the baby undergo to repair the fetus’s spine. The unique access of the series’ camera crew gives viewers a close-up look at this surgery on a baby in the womb — the first time ever in a major television broadcast.

Meet the Medical Team

Dr. N. Scott Adzick, Dr. Mark Johnson and Dr. Julie Moldenhauer, Twice Born
Dr. N. Scott Adzick, CHOP Surgeon-in­‐Chief; Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment Director and founder.


Dr. Mark Johnson, Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrical Services Director.
Dr. Julie Moldenhauer, Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit Medical Director; Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment obstetrician.
Dr. Holly Hedrick and Dr. Nahla Khalek, Twice Born
Dr. Holly Hedrick, CHOP pediatric and fetal surgeon.


Dr. Nahla Khalek, Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment obstetrician.

Episode 3  (Premiered April 14, 2015)
The final episode delivers deeper insight into the personality and motivations of Dr. Scott Adzick, who takes viewers behind the normally closed doors of his life outside the hospital. This hour features a plastic surgeon beginning to reshape baby Lilly’s face, which culminates in a carefully planned reconstructive operation. Episode 3 includes an intimate view of the much-anticipated delivery of Bobby and Shelly’s baby. By the end of the hour, Shelly and Bobby have returned to Boston and begin to learn the longterm impact of the fetal surgery on their daughter and what lies ahead for her. The episode also chronicles the story of Geneva and Reggie, a couple from North Carolina whose world is shaken when doctors reveal that their unborn child has developed an often fatal lower urinary tract obstruction.


Twice Born – Stories from the Special Delivery Unit
was produced by Trailblazer Studios.

Follow these links for more information about fetal surgery, EXIT procedure, spina bifida, Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.


Related Links

Produced by:  

Trailblazer Studios

Photos © PBS

Streaming on:

Your purchase supports PBS and helps make our programming possible.

| Twice Born: Stories From the Special Delivery Unit
Choose Station
When to watch

Twice Born: Stories From the Special Delivery Unit

Local Station:

Choose Station

Support your local PBS station

PBS LearningMediaPBS LearningMedia

PBS Video App

Stream the best of PBS.
Anytime, anywhere.

television laptop tablet phone
Download the Free App