Emmerdale‘s Charley Webb talks to Soaplife about the moment Debbie and Andy discover the heartbreaking truth about Sarah’s illness…
As Debbie and Andy are called back to the hospital, the doctors drop the bombshell they’ve been dreading: their daughter Sarah has a rare genetic disorder and is seriously ill. “Having a sick child is such a massive, awful thing,” says Charley. “The research, everything has to be right because people know what can and can’t happen in these circumstances…”
So what is wrong with Sarah?
“Debbie and Andy are told Sarah has Fanconi anaemia [a rare genetic condition affecting children which causes bone marrow failure]. The doctor explains it’s a serious illness and not something that can just be dealt with by a few tablets. They’re completely shocked.”
Is the worry over Sarah bringing them closer?
“Yes, they’re actually able to hold a conversation without arguing. They’ve had to get on because ultimately this is their little girl and the most important person in their lives.”
Will they tell Sarah the truth?
“Debbie’s priority is that Sarah has no idea what’s going on. She explains she’s poorly, but the doctors are going to make her better and everything’s going to be all right.”
“They have to find a bone marrow match for Sarah, so Debbie wants to get as many people signed up and tested as possible. She’s desperately clutching at any hope it will be all right.”
Debbie finds out that having another baby with the same bone marrow might be able to help Sarah, doesn’t she?
“She starts researching Sarah’s illness and that’s how the whole ‘saviour sibling’ idea comes up. She finds out for herself that that’s an option.”
How far would Debbie go to help Sarah beat this?
“Any lengths…whatever it takes. Whatever the doctors say is the best thing to do, she’ll do it.”
Is it a difficult storyline to be involved with?
“It is because this is a real condition and it affects so many families you don’t even hear about. It needs to be done right. And the emotion needs to be right. You can’t play the whole storyline crying. Debbie puts a mask on and is very focused. I think a lot of parents probably go through that thing of being very focused and trying to keep everything together.”