Creation of the UC Davis fetal care team began with the arrival of Diana Farmer, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies – one of the highest honors in medicine – and a fellow of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of England. In the late 1990s Farmer was the first woman in the world to perform open fetal surgery.
Farmer is known for skilled surgical treatment of congenital anomalies and cancer, airway and intestinal surgeries in newborns, as well as for a body of research that includes more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and a landmark study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of fetal spina bifida surgery. She is currently researching a novel stem cell therapy for repairing damaged neural tissue in patients with the condition.
Farmer recruited Shinjiro Hirose in 2015 to serve as chief of the newly established UC Davis Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery, with a joint appointment as director of pediatric surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California.
In addition to his background in fetal surgery, Hirose is a nationally recognized children’s cancer surgeon and an expert in the development and use of minimally invasive surgery in children.He is also among the creators and founding members of the University of California Fetal Therapy Consortium, a collaboration of the five fetal treatment programs at UC campuses.
Herman Hedriana serves as chief of the UC Davis Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, with a focus on premature birth risk assessment, prenatal diagnosis/screening, perinatal safety initiatives, prenatal diagnosis, fetal ultrasound and management of labor.
Hedriana has authored peer-reviewed publications in these areas and is an active volunteer for March of Dimes, working on prematurity prevention, health care disparities and health care policies involving different California communities.
Known for experience, compassion and skill
Center physicians have performed hundreds of surgeries and interventions between them over their careers, and offer or are planning a wide range of on-site interventional capabilities and methods unique to inland Northern California, such as:
- Open fetal surgery, which involves treating the fetus directly within the uterus via a Caesarian-like abdominal incision. The method is used for conditions such as spina bifida and for specific tumors before birth.
- Less invasive procedures such as fetoscopic or fetal image-guided surgery, which can avoid the large incision by using an endoscope and or sonogram to view the fetus during surgery and then a small incision to insert and manipulate instruments. For example, the team can employ an endoscope with a laser to treat twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
- Ex-utero intrapartum treatment procedure or EXIT, a surgical intervention at the time of birth that is most often used to relieve respiratory conditions such as airway compression or abnormal lung masses. The fetus is partially removed from the mother and undergoes surgery while still attached to the umbilical cord, which is then cut for completion of delivery.