Dad’s marathon effort for Leeds medics who saved his newborn son’s life


When he was born at Pinderfields Hospital on December 11th 2016, Sebastian Young was a healthy 9lb 11oz and seemed fit and well.

In fact his parents Danny and Harriet Young were preparing to take him home when he began to have difficulty breathing.

After around 40 minutes of examinations, however, he was rushed to intensive care by doctors who feared he had a cardiac problem.

Hours later his condition worsened and the following morning, he was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary with suspected sepsis and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn).

When he was transferred his heart rate was over 210 and his blood oxygen saturation had dipped to a low of around 20 per cent.

Danny, a training and development leader, said: “It was absolutely horrific. We were getting ready to take him home and the next thing we knew, Sebastian was being rushed to intensive care.”

At LGI, Sebastian was sedated and placed on an oscillator to open up his lungs and breathe for him. Unfortunately, when the sedation was lifted and Sebastian tried to breathe for himself he started having seizures.

In total, he was put on life support three times as doctors battled to find the cause of his condition. He was given numerous scans, a lumbar puncture and even genetic testing to try to determine the cause of his illness.

In early January, he had recovered enough to be moved to the high dependency unit. And on January 6th – 26 days after he was born – Harriet was able to breastfeed Sebastian for the first time.

Now able to sleep in a cot next to his mum and improving all the time, Danny and Harriet were finally able to take Sebastian home exactly one month after he was born.

Despite all of the tests and investigations, no underlying cause was found for Sebastian’s illness. Doctors sometimes describe PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) as like ‘a switch not going off’.

When a baby is in the womb, the pressure in his or her lungs is much less than when they are breathing for themselves. Rarely, this ‘switch’ doesn’t go off and the baby does not adapt to breathing for him or herself.

Danny, from Heckmondwike, said: “We will probably never know the underlying cause found for Sebastian’s illness, but he is doing amazingly well – you would never know he had been ill.

“He is showing no signs of developmental delays so far and is a very happy child. He certainly keeps us busy!”

Danny and Harriet, also parents to six-year-old Evangelina, are now supporting the neonatal intensive care unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Danny will run Leeds Half Marathon on Sunday 14th May, just after Sebastian turns five months old, and has already raised over £1,000 for the unit.

Danny, 29, said: “We’ll never be able to do enough to say thank you – they saved Sebastian’s life. Nothing will be enough to express how we feel.”

Danny and Harriet now visit the unit with crocheted octopi for the babies after reading about the Octo Project – a worldwide project that has crafters help premature and poorly babies thrive by crocheting octopuses for babies in the neonatal intensive care. The tentacles of the octopi are said to resemble the umbilical cord and remind babies of the womb and comfort.

Danny said: “We have also given books for parents to read to their babies, as I particularly found comfort in reading to Sebastian.

“All the money we raise is going to the neonatal intensive care unit at LGI, as without them Sebastian wouldn’t be here. Hopefully we can help parents who find themselves in the position we were in.”

To sponsor Danny go to

The Leeds Half Marathon is now sold out for 2017. Entries for 2018 will open on Sunday 14th May.


 It's landed ... your final 2017 Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon Newsletter. We announce the Yorkshire Marathon app which includes on the day tracking. Plus we'll be on the telly - again. Don't forget to book your Yorkshire Marathon transport, to help make your journey to the start line as stress-free and as simple as possible. 

Read more