CHOP receives $25M donation for its fetal medicine program from the family behind Wawa

The exterior of CHOP in Philadelphia

The exterior of CHOP in Philadelphia. (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

Updated 6:23 p.m.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its fetal medicine program in 2020. Now, with the help of a $25 million donation from the Wood family — founders of the chain of Wawa stores — CHOP has announced the establishment of the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

“Supporting the mission of CHOP has long been a part of the Wood family and Wawa DNA, and we are sincerely honored to continue supporting the hospital’s mission through the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment,” Richard D. Wood Jr., chairperson emeritus of Wawa, said in a statement.

The Wood family has had ties to CHOP since the hospital was founded in 1855: Dr. George Bacon Wood was among the signers of CHOP’s articles of incorporation as the first children’s hospital in the United States.

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“Across eight generations and for more than 165 years, the Wood family and Wawa have been invaluable partners to and champions of our hospital. This generous investment from the Wood family will undoubtedly help advance the translation of promising science into new therapies that will benefit our tiniest patients,” Madeline Bell, president and CEO of CHOP, said in a statement.

The $25 million donation will fund the expansion of clinical space such as the delivery unit, the creation of a birth defects biorepository, as well as endowments for a position in pediatric surgical science and other related fellowships.

To date, the center, which has been in operation since 1995, has assisted more than 27,000 parents from all 50 states and 70 countries through pregnancies, according to CHOP.

“Their generous philanthropic support will allow for a major expansion of infrastructure, patient services, research, and recruitment that will categorically be pivotal to our hospital and the patients and families we serve worldwide,” said Dr. N. Scott Adzick, surgeon-in-chief, founder, and director of the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

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In an interview with WHYY News Wednesday, Adzick said he doubts there would even be a CHOP without the Wood family. He said the money will be of great help — especially for the fellowships.

“The three George Bacon Wood Fellowships in pediatric surgical science at $1.5 million each will support the pediatric surgical leaders of the future,” said Adzick, who has served on the hospital’s board of trustees.

The pediatric surgical science position will be named in honor of Dr. David W. Wood, another member of the family who worked in medicine at CHOP from 1953 until he retired in 1988. The post will be funded with $5 million that will go largely toward “research in the area of fetal diagnosis and treatment.”

“The word `family’ just gives and gives and gives and gives and gives, and they really ask for nothing in return, so it’s fantastic,” Adzick said.

The center just had its 5,000th special delivery and its 2,000th fetal surgery operation, according to Adzick.

He called the Wood donation more “fuel” to propel the operation into “warp speed.”

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