Pregnancy is a defining moment for families. But with the unexpected news of a high-risk pregnancy, that moment becomes filled with fear. Furthermore, the sad truth in our region is that moms and babies facing complex medical conditions are not getting the care they desperately need.
In Orange County, complex fetal anomalies affect 1 to 3% of the 50,000 births each year—between 500 to 1,500. The county’s underserved communities remain most at-risk, with wait times to see some specialists lasting up to eight months—nearly the full term of a pregnancy.
Thanks to a $10 million donation from the Argyros Family Foundation, CHOC will take giant leaps forward to deepen and expand our fetal care program, so that children and their families are given their best chance of achieving health and wellness.
The transformational gift, announced by Julia Argyros and Stephanie Argyros during the 2022 CHOC Gala, advances our Fetal Care Center of Southern California, a first-of-its-kind program in partnership with UCI Health. This unique collaboration is filling a critical need by bringing together world-class experts in both maternal-fetal medicine and pediatrics so that expectant parents and babies are cared for in a single, patient-centered location.
“CHOC and UCI Health are committed to improving maternal and fetal health in Orange County and beyond. We are very grateful to the Argyros family for their extraordinary support, which will enable us to become one of the premier fetal programs in the United States,” says Dr. Peter Yu, a pediatric general and thoracic surgeon at CHOC and medical director of The Fetal Care Center of Southern California.
An extraordinary legacy of generosity for CHOC
Since its opening in 2021, the center has seen more than 700 patients, including babies with extremely rare conditions. The Argyros’ gift will enable CHOC to continue to grow our service, including the addition of staff and becoming a hub for groundbreaking research on fetal disorders.
“The Fetal Care Center of Southern California gives expectant parents facing unexpected diagnoses access to the highest levels of expert care – for them and their babies. We are truly proud to support the great work of CHOC,” says Julia Argyros.
This gift continues the long legacy of visionary philanthropy and support for CHOC by George and Julia Argyros and their daughter, Stephanie. In 2012, the family’s $5 million donation was recognized by naming CHOC’s emergency department in their honor. As Orange County’s only dedicated pediatric emergency department (ED), the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department combines the latest features in safety and design with leading-edge equipment and compassionate staff. Since the Argyros’ gift, the ED’s volume has doubled, and CHOC has become an undisputed leader in pediatric trauma, including being verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level I pediatric trauma center, the highest ranking for trauma centers.
Five years later, that gift was followed with $2 million to grow neonatal services (NICU). Recognized as Orange County’s only Level 4 NICU by the American Academy of Pediatrics, CHOC’s neonatal program has become a national leader in creating best practices for newborns because of the incredible support from partners like the Argyros Family Foundation.
In addition to their donations, Julia and Stephanie have volunteered at key signature events benefitting the pediatric healthcare system. Julia was an early cast member of the CHOC Follies, a longstanding CHOC Foundation fundraising event where Orange County’s talented civic and society leaders gather to sing and dance in support of CHOC’s mission to advance children’s health. Stephanie has served on the CHOC Foundation Board of Directors since 2011, and also has been an executive committee member, including serving as co-chair for the CHOC Gala, helping raise $5 million for CHOC.
“The Argyros family has been an integral part of CHOC’s history for more than two decades. They never waver in their dedication to making our community a better place, especially for children and families. This most recent gift will help us ensure these babies have the best chance at a happy, healthy childhood,” says Kimberly Chavalas Cripe, CHOC president and CEO.
Everything expectant families need in one place
The 2,200-square-foot Fetal Care Center, located on CHOC’s Orange campus, features a spacious lobby, two echocardiogram rooms, one ultrasound room, two patient consultation rooms and a physician reading room, all set against soothing, spa-like aesthetics. It is distinguished by an approach that combines concierge-like comprehensive care with a multidisciplinary team of specialists. Families have a single point of contact—a fetal coordinator—who schedules everything for a one-stop consultation. At the end of that day, expectant families receive customized care plans that help them better understand what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.
In addition to certain fetal interventions, the center currently offers:
- Fetal diagnostics
- Treatment planning
- After-birth care
- A full complement of specialties, including cardiology, genetics, maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, neurology, neurosurgery, otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery, pediatric general and thoracic surgery, plastic surgery, urology and more.
“Expectant parents can put all their burdens, anxiety and concerns on us. We can take care of almost any issue a baby may be facing – and we’ll be with each family every step of the way,” says Dr. Yu.
Thank you, Argyros Family Foundation, for helping advance fetal care and creating a world of possibilities for our families. Your unwavering support makes all the difference!