EastEnders have confirmed that Whitney Dean and Zack Hudson's baby will be diagnosed with a rare but serious birth defect in tragic scenes airing later this month.
Soon-to-be parents Whitney (Shona McGarty) and Zack (James Farrar) receive devastating news that their unborn baby has Edwards' Syndrome when an ultrasound scan identified a birth defect which requires further testing.
Edwards' Syndrome is a genetic condition which begins to affect babies when they are in the womb and means they usually die shortly after birth.
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The BBC soap is working closely with Antenatal Results and Choices and SOFT UK to accurately raise awareness of the condition and aim to sensitively portray the tough decisions that parents are faced with following a diagnosis.
Whitney became pregnant after her brief fling with Zack last year.
Zack has needed to adjust to the idea of becoming a father as well as dealing with his positive HIV diagnosis.
EastEnders' Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said of the storyline: "It was imperative for us to work alongside Antenatal Results and Choices and SOFT UK to accurately present, and sensitively portray, such an emotional storyline that many parents may relate to.
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"Shona [McGarty] and James’ [Farrar] performances have thoughtfully portrayed the realities of the diagnosis and the decision making process with compassion and understanding. We hope that this story resonates with the audience, and that we represent it as sensitively, and as accurately as possible."
Jane Fowler, Chair at Soft UK shared: "At SOFT UK, we support families impacted by Edwards’ or Patau’s Syndrome and we were pleased to be able to work with the EastEnders team on how they could approach the story of Whitney and Zack’s baby’s diagnosis of Edwards’ Syndrome in an accurate and sensitive way.
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She continued: "Around 3 in every 10,000 births in the UK are affected by Edwards' syndrome each year and many parents contact SOFT for help. We provide parents with comprehensive advice and support whether they decide to end their pregnancy or to continue.
"We also support families whose living children have Edwards’ or Patau’s."
While Jane Fisher, Director at Antenatal Results and Choices said: "At ARC we hear daily from expectant parents dealing with the shock of being told their baby is not developing as expected, as is sadly the case for those who receive an Edwards’ Syndrome diagnosis.
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"This is a distressing and often isolating time for expectant parents as they try and navigate their next steps in a state of emotional turmoil and it’s rarely spoken about.
She added: "Well done EastEnders for tackling this difficult subject and we are pleased they involved us to help them treat the storyline with such sensitivity and compassion."
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