Connor Sternberg had his first surgery before he breathed his first breath. Doctors worked to close a small hole at the base of his spine through which his spinal cord protruded, a severe form of a birth defect known as spina bifida. Although spina bifida is relatively common—affecting about one out of every 1,500 babies—this was no run-of-the-mill operation: Connor was still in his mother's womb.