Heartbreaking: Hong Kong model Leanne Fu goes for induced abortion after baby found to have rare genetic disorder

PHOTO: Instagram/leannefu_1027

Pregnancy is a tough journey as any number of things could go wrong.

One of the worst news that a mother could possibly hear is that her unborn child has some kind of affliction. And that's exactly what happened to Hong Kong model Leanne Fu.

On May 5, the 35-year-old — who is married to Hong Kong-Canadian singer Jason Chan — revealed details about her recent pregnancy which ended in abortion after she learnt that the 13-week-old foetus had a genetic disorder known as Edwards syndrome.

Edwards syndrome is a genetic condition in babies that causes severe disability and babies who have this condition don't usually survive for more than a week.

Leanne penned a heartfelt post detailing the incident and she started with how excited she felt when her pregnancy test came back positive after trying for months to conceive.

She wrote: "Although I kept vomiting and couldn't eat anything, I still looked forward to the day when I will see you. Every night, I wondered if you would be like your dad or me, and I dreamt about the way you would play with Abi (her firstborn) and fight for toys. These thoughts filled my head every night.

"When I went to the maternity check-up and heard your heartbeat, I forgot all about the constant nausea and vomiting. All that was left was the feeling of happiness."

During the 10th week of her pregnancy, bad news struck as the doctor detected that the nuchal fold was thicker than normal.

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The nuchal fold is a normal fold of skin located at the back of the foetal neck and an increased thickness is a soft marker associated with multiple foetal anomalies.

Leanne was told that her baby could have Down syndrome or a heart condition, but they needed to conduct a blood test to come to a diagnosis. She was shocked by the news and said she was "in a daze".

"During the week-long wait for the results, besides crying, I went online to read about other mothers' experiences. I discussed it with your father, and if it was Down syndrome, we could accept it. We would be able to take care of you and give you unconditional love," she added.

Alas, the truth hit much harder as the blood test showed that her baby had Edwards syndrome instead.

She said: "I had never heard of this condition. I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that the doctor said I should get a chorionic villus sampling [to confirm it]."

When she researched the condition online, she realised that it was a hopeless situation as it usually results in an intra-uterine foetal death. Even if the baby was brought to term, they would only survive anywhere from minutes to hours, or just a few months.

Leanne tried to cling on to some semblance of hope by reading up on other mothers with the same experience but any hope she had was lost when the doctor eventually told her that all signs pointed to her baby having Edwards syndrome.

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The baby suffered from a plethora of health issues due to the genetic disorder, such as a brain malformation, a serious heart problem, and an absence of nasal bone.

A hard and painful decision was then made to abort him.

Though she was advised to do it quickly, Leanne had one wish: to take a maternity shoot with her family of four as she didn't do it with her first daughter, Abi.

Leanne also affirmed that this will be the last time she'll be pregnant as she doesn't think she has the courage to go through something like this again and suffer another blow.

In a touching message to her unborn child, Leanne said: "Sorry, Mother isn't brave. I've been thinking that I should just ignore everything and have you. But every time, I think about how long you'll have in this world and I can't bear it.

"I've never been a lucky person. I wasn't fortunate enough to have you. My life's worth of luck has been used when I got married to your father and I had your sister Abi. So, Mother didn't do right by you. I'm not fortunate to witness your birth, but you must know that Mother and Father will always love you."

Her story garnered overwhelming support from netizens who shared their own experiences with her and Leanne was so touched and grateful.

In a separate Instagram post, she wrote: "I've received your stories and blessings. Thank you for your love, your encouragement, and for sharing your stories in such detail. Your experiences made me feel like I wasn't alone."

She also said that many netizens thanked her for sharing her story because it made them feel like they had a shared experience and they could overcome the grief together.

That, she shared, gave her unborn child's life even more meaning.

"Everyone has a mission in life that they must fulfil. Although he had a short life, he completed his mission," she said.

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bryanlim@asiaone.com