Groundbreaking Surgery Featured in BBC Documentary

27th July 2018



A BBC documentary called Spina Bifida and Me focuses on the preparations being made by a team from University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to introduce the first service providing fetal surgery for spina bifida in the UK.

The preparations, which have been going on for four years, are the result of a close collaboration with a team from KU Leuven in Belgium which has trained the British team.

The documentary will be broadcast on BBC2 on Thursday 26 July at 9pm.

(Link here:

One in every 1,000 pregnancies in Britain has a spine or brain defect like spina bifida. 30 years ago, actress Ruth Madeley was one of them. Despite having spina bifida herself, it is a condition she doesn't fully understand. In this programme, Ruth sets out to discover why she has it, whether it could have been prevented and what it means for her future.

Ruth discovers that a pioneering surgery could offer a different future for babies diagnosed with spina bifida, by operating on them before they are even born. She discovers how this surgery was invented, meets the families whose lives it has changed and follows the team of British clinicians from UCLH and GOSH preparing to perform this extraordinary foetal surgery in the UK for the very first time. But Ruth also examines attitudes in Britain today and asks whether we should change the way we see disability.

The setting up of the Centre for Prenatal Therapy programme at UCLH and GOSH has been made possible thanks to generous charitable funding totalling £450,000 from GOSH Children’s Charity and UCLH Charity. The funds are being used to facilitate the research, provide training for the surgical team and surgery for the first 10 patients. The NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre are also supporting the research.

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