100% of the proceeds of the Birdies for Bladders charity golf tournament go to Johns Hopkins Hospital's Dr. John Gearhart's research on bladder exstrophy. Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital is the world leader in the treatment of children with bladder exstrophy.
What is bladder exstrophy? This congenital birth defect is seen in one of 10,000 to 50,000 live births and is an abnormality of formation of the bladder and the bony pelvis. The bladder does not form into its normal round shape but instead is flattened and exposed on the abdominal wall. The pelvic bones are also widely separated. Major genetic studies are currently underway at Johns Hopkins Hospital involving the exstrophy-epispadias complex. Diagnosis can be made on careful repeated ultrasounds done before delivery, but usually the diagnosis is not made until the baby is born. The finding of the exposed bladder is typical. Advances in surgery in the last 15 years have allowed reconstruction of the bladder so that a more "normal" and functional lifestyle can be maintained by the patient and family. Current state-of-the-art treatment for exstrophy involves reconstruction of the various aspects of the deformity (i.e. closing the bladder and prevention of urine leakage. This usually involves separate operations at various times in the life of the child to obtain the best results.