Change font size:

CHOP IntroCHOP Intro| Cancer Immun| Lymphatics


CHOP Intro| Cancer Immun| Lymphatics


Imagine if your child had a life-threatening illness. You’d want them in the hands of a cutting-edge institution like The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, otherwise known as CHOP. Utilizing advanced technology and top physicians, healthcare workers and researchers, CHOP is making groundbreaking discoveries on an international scale. Suzanne explores this cutting- edge institution right here in Philadelphia to learn how their revolutionary work is saving and improving lives of children around the globe.  

CHOP was founded in 1855 by three physicians who were appalled by the living conditions of children in Philadelphia at that time – many of them being immigrants. This trio of doctors raised enough money to successfully open the first and biggest children’s hospital in the country. Today, CHOP is one of the world’s top children’s hospitals, known internationally for patient care, research, and a lot of “firsts.” CHOP was the first to discover vaccines for the mumps and influenza, the first to ever separate conjoined twins, and the first to cure a rare form of congenital blindness through gene therapy. These pioneering operations and vaccines are just a few of the many revolutionary advancements CHOP has contributed to the medical industry thus far. CHOP is dedicated to revolutionizing medicine through innovative research, which can be seen in the success of their “Frontier Programs.” The Frontier Programs focus resources on rare and serious conditions such as: 

-Cancer Immunotherapy

-Inflammatory Bowel Disease

-Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome

-Lymphatic Imaging and Interventions

Throughout two very special episodes, Suzanne interviews the medical staff whose work and dedication has resulted in innovative diagnostic tools and treatments in these Frontier Programs as well as the patients and families whose lives have been impacted profoundly.  


At 19-years-old, Mitch Carbon would probably agree that he knows more about the city of Philadelphia than he ever expected. Growing up in Spokane, Washington, Mitch was just like any other kid – happy and healthy, playing sports and having fun in school. One day, that all changed. Mitch’s mom, Kari, knew something was terribly wrong when Mitch experienced what felt like a “hot fork running down the bones of his legs” while running at practice. Mitch’s parents rushed him to the emergency room, where they were forced to face their worst nightmare: learning that their child had cancer. Mitch was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. The burning pain Mitch was experiencing came from cancer cells flooded in his bone marrow. Mitch’s survival rate was low, and they needed to begin aggressive treatment immediately. After 18 months of chemo and a bone marrow transplant, Mitch’s leukemia had appeared for a third time, but this time in his spinal fluid. Doctors told the Carbons that there wasn’t much more that could be done and he was going to die… at just 16-years-old. If one thing was for sure, Mitch wasn’t going down without a fight, and The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania would end up being his boxing ring.

After reading articles about ground-breaking clinical trials being done at CHOP, Mitch and his family decided to call them for help. Immediately after hanging up the phone, Mitch and his family were on a plane to Philadelphia. CHOP’s clinical trials were being done with “T-cells,” a natural part of the immune system that fights viruses. T-cells can fight cancer cells, but are unable to see the cancer cells to kill them. CHOP discovered how to genetically re-program these T-cells to find and kill cancer cells. Using genetically re-programmed T-cells, a treatment otherwise known as “cancer immunotherapy,” can increase an ALL patient’s survival rate from less than 10% to at least 80%. Dr. Grupp, the Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, met Mitch and his family once they arrived in Philadelphia. After having a conversation about the unknowns and the risks of participating in the clinical trial, the first questions Mitch asked Dr. Grupp were, “Will you learn something no matter if I live or die, and will this help get this treatment out there?” These questions revealed just how selfless and brave Mitch was going into the trial; he was willing to die if it meant helping doctors find a cure for ALL. After completing the clinical trial, Mitch experienced excruciating side effects, which caused him to slip into a short coma. Immediately after regaining consciousness, it was clear that Mitch’s body had started to heal. Several MRI scans later, each significantly better than the one before, and Mitch had made medical history. Today, Mitch is a cancer-free 19-year-old. His family and CHOP never gave up on him, but most importantly, Mitch never gave up on himself. He continued to fight for his life and for the lives of every child affected by this disease. In August, 2017, the FDA approved the CAR T-Cell Therapy as a potentially life-saving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


Jameson Finley was born with a single ventricle, and before he turned 4-years-old, he had already been through three successful open-heart surgeries. Following their success, Jameson’s parents, Laura-Marie and Todd, thought their son was finally on his way to a normal and healthy life. One year after his fourth birthday, Jameson started coughing up things that looked like “tree branches.” Concerned, his parents rushed him to the doctor’s office, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Jameson continued coughing up these mysterious “tree branches,” and his parents knew something still wasn’t right. They brought Jameson to several different doctors in the Dallas area, but his condition had the local community stumped. Terrified and desperate for answers, Jameson’s family began researching everywhere. Todd’s mother found an article online about CHOP, and Laura-Marie called the number listed on their website immediately.  

After being put in touch with Dr. Dori, the Director of CHOP’s Pediatric Lymphatic Imaging and Interventions department, Jameson’s family learned that the “tree branches” being coughed up were “casts” from lymphatic fluid hardening in his lungs – a condition known as plastic bronchitis. Plastic bronchitis is one of the many possible known repercussions of the Fontan procedure – the series of open-heart surgeries that saved Jameson’s life as a baby born with a single ventricle. Fortunately, at CHOP, Dr. Dori and Dr. Itkin were developing new techniques to assess and enter the lymphatic system, with hopes that they’d be able to block the protein-leaking channels that cause plastic bronchitis. The Finley’s anxiously hopped on a plane to Philadelphia, where Jameson would be the first patient to undergo this treatment. During the procedure, specialized needles were passed into Jameson’s vessels. These needles released a sterilized superglue, which blocked the leaking vessels. Within weeks, Jameson’s life-threatening symptoms disappeared completely, and he hasn’t coughed up a cast since. Today, Jameson is just like every other kid – happy, healthy and resilient… attending school and playing sports. It wasn’t long ago that Laura-Marie and Todd feared that their son was going to die. They never imagined they’d see him breathe normally again, let alone watch him play soccer. Jameson is the first of many children whose lives will be saved thanks to CHOP’s innovative cure for plastic bronchitis. 

Surfing Suggestions