EastEnders: Edwards’ syndrome and the troublesome alternative for folks

Whitney And Zack From Eastenders

“You picture your life with this baby and then all of a sudden it’s taken away from you.”

It’s been almost a yr since Rebecca Spence misplaced her child on account of a uncommon, critical situation referred to as Edwards’ syndrome, or trisomy 18.

Most infants identified with it would sadly die earlier than or simply after being born.

Rebecca says it leaves mother and father with a call – keep it up, figuring out the kid may not survive, or finish the being pregnant.

“You have choices to make and none of them are choices you want to make,” she says.

The heart-breaking dilemma has been performed out in EastEnders over the previous month.

Characters Whitney Dean and Zack Hudson realized their child, Peach, had Edwards’ syndrome.

Like Rebecca, the couple opted for a termination after being instructed it might restrict the child’s lifespan.

Many different viewers mentioned the emotional scenes mirrored their very own experiences, and praised actors Shona McGarty and James Farrar for his or her performances.

‘Feels like a blur’

In Rebecca’s case, her 12-week being pregnant scan discovered no issues, however a later test confirmed a number of abnormalities.

She describes a sense of “shock, disbelief and then going into a state of fight or flight” after the prognosis of Edwards’ syndrome.

“I was in denial for a while,” she says, “Hard to remember exactly how I was feeling.”

Levi, 28 from Stoke, was 20 weeks pregnant when issues have been discovered and her child was identified with Edwards’ syndrome.

That second was “crazy, like the world stops,” she says.

“It’s like a lightning strike… like the world’s just come crashing down.”

Levi and her companion ultimately made the choice to go forward with a termination.

She says it was essentially the most difficult second of her expertise, particularly seeing different folks with wholesome infants having scans on the identical time.

Levi says she’s grateful for the 2 kids she’d already had, “because they’ve given us something to focus on”.

Levi And Her Partner


Both Levi and Rebecca say they have been glad EastEnders selected to run the storyline.

“There should be more awareness out there,” says Levi.

Rebecca, who’s now 29, was happy the present additionally targeted on Whitney and Zack’s grief after shedding Peach.

“It’s coming up to the year anniversary. And it still feels raw, even now,” she tells BBC Newsbeat.

“I think pregnancy loss and baby loss is still a huge taboo, and not really spoken about very often.

“Because when you consider our child dying, it feels unsuitable. It does not really feel just like the circle of life.

“I’m sure there’s so many people out there going through things. So hopefully it’ll make them feel less alone as well.”

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What is Edwards’ syndrome?

  • Also often known as trisomy 18, it is uncommon however critical
  • Most infants with the situation will die earlier than or shortly after being born
  • A small quantity (about 13 in 100) infants born alive with Edwards’ syndrome will stay previous their first birthday
  • All infants born with Edwards’ syndrome can have some degree of studying incapacity. The severity can differ
  • Your probability of getting a child with Edwards’ syndrome will increase as you become older, however anybody can have a child with Edwards’ syndrome
  • It doesn’t often run in households and isn’t brought on by something the mother and father have or haven’t performed
  • A child with Edwards’ syndrome has three copies of chromosome quantity 18 as an alternative of two. This impacts the way in which the child grows and develops.
  • Having three copies of chromosome 18 often occurs by probability, due to a change within the sperm or egg earlier than a child is conceived.
  • There’s no treatment for Edwards’ syndrome, and remedy will give attention to the signs of the situation, resembling coronary heart circumstances, respiration difficulties and infections

Source: NHS

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Not everybody has the identical expertise.

The NHS says about 13% of infants with Edwards’ syndrome who’re born alive stay previous their first birthday.

Amber-Rose, now aged 5, is one in all them.

Mum Jennifer Holyrod tells Newsbeat she was 32 weeks pregnant when she discovered Amber was “not growing the way she should have been”.

A prognosis wouldn’t have been attainable at this late stage, so, after a lot thought, Jennifer and her companion determined to attend.

“I think not knowing at that time, it was just praying to get to the end of your pregnancy and that everything is going to be OK,” she says.

Amber was born by Caesarean part, weighing simply 4lb (1.8kg) and with respiration difficulties.

These improved as soon as she was handled within the neonatal division, which offers specialist take care of poorly newborns, and after two weeks Amber was identified with Edwards’ Syndrome.

Jennifer And Amber

Jennifer Holyrod

Jennifer says it felt “as though Amber was written off”, and there was an expectation she wouldn’t survive long-term.

She says the subsequent six months of medical interventions have been “trauma, for her and for us as a family”.

“What she went through in those few months isn’t something that any child should have to go through, or any parent should have to see.”

But Amber grew, grew to become stronger and “kept being able to fight those fights”, Jennifer says.

Now Amber, who began college in September, is “a happy little girl”.

There are challenges, Jennifer says, with disabilities and Amber being unable to stroll or discuss.

“She laughs and plays… she does communicate in her own way. She’s smiling all the time and her interaction with people is something else.”


Jennifer Holyrod

Jennifer says she was eager to share her story to indicate “there are positive outcomes” that may happen.

“When we were at the start, all we wanted was to look for those positive stories.

“It’s exhausting to get by way of every single day with out that little little bit of hope. So it hopefully provides anyone else that little little bit of hope.”

SOFT UK, a specialist support charity for those affected by Edwards’ syndrome, helped EastEnders’ writers to shape the storyline.

In an announcement, it mentioned: “Although the EastEnders plot just isn’t consultant of everybody’s story, it does seize the expertise many households will face, and the heart-breaking selections laid out earlier than them.”

If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this article, advice can be found via BBC Action Line.


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