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Meet Ciarlo – A CHOP VIP

Meet Ciarlo! Ciarlo is a CHOP VIP (Very Important Patient). Our CHOP VIP’s are some of our patient ambassador’s that let us share their story and experience with our amazing corporate partners. Ciarlo is just one of our many CHOP VIP’s, and his story below shows how Children’s Miracle Network funds have helped him and his family.

Ciarlo was diagnosed before birth with spina bifida, a serious condition in which the spinal cord doesn’t close completely during development. He was born in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and, less than 24 hours after birth, had surgery to close the hole in his spine.

Ciarlo has had nine surgeries in just seven years of life. Paralyzed below his hips, he walks with braces and crutches or a walker, and uses a wheelchair for long distances. He has follow-up appointments with CHOP’s specialized Spina Bifida Program and will need to have more surgeries in the future. Despite these challenges, Ciarlo loves life and never lets his different abilities define him.

In 2016, Ciarlo’s older brother Dominic was diagnosed at CHOP with a brain tumor. Sadly, Dominic lost his battle with cancer just nine months later at the age of 8. Since Dominic’s death, CHOP’s Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) has provided emotional, social and spiritual support to help the family work through their grief. Ciarlo meets with a PACT child life therapist, and his parents, Kira and Kenny, see a PACT bereavement social worker. “It has been incredibly helpful,” says Kira.

Funds raised through Children’s Miracle Network support PACT and other CHOP programs that help children and families cope with the hospital experience.