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E. Major Strides Made in Fetal Intervention Surgery

Narrator: This is Science Today. The Fetal Treatment Center at the University of California , San Francisco is one of a handful of centers in the United States that perform fetal surgery. A quarter of a century ago, the center made history when physicians performed the first surgery on a fetus in utero. Dr. Lisa Hornberger, director of the Fetal Cardiovascular Program, says today it's a really critical and very exciting time to be in the field of fetal intervention.

Hornberger: Because we can now, maybe prevent even the development of the worst conditions that we see after birth the one being hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where there's complete underdevelopment of the left heart, that after birth these babies require at least three operations and have a long-term, guarded or uncertain future and if we can prevent the development of this condition, which again is one of the most common, complex newborn conditions that we see, it would be fantastic! It gives them a completely different outlook in life and a different outlook in families.

Narrator: Since its founding, the Fetal Treatment Center has treated more than 15,000 birth defects. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin .