On the 26th November 2011, new parents Ryan and Lyndsey Senior welcomed their baby girl Isabella to the world at their local hospital in Halifax.

Despite being born six weeks prematurely, Isabella was able to return home with her family after 11 days on the special care baby unit.

Just before Christmas, Lyndsey and Ryan noticed that Isabella was unwell, she couldn’t keep her feed down and had cold-like symptoms. Doctors at their local A&E told them that Isabella had a viral infection that would clear up on its own within a few weeks.

Ryan and Lyndsey are so grateful to have enjoyed their first Christmas at home with their new-born baby girl but were aware that she still didn’t seem herself. Over the next few days, Isabella’s condition continued to deteriorate, and on the 30th December 2011, she was rushed to A&E.

Here, doctors discovered that she had bronchiolitis, a common lower respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children under 2 years old. Isabella was placed on a CPAP machine to try and blow air into her airways and open up the severely inflamed airways.

In the early hours of New Year’s Eve, Ryan and Lyndsey were told every parent’s worst nightmare, that Isabella had stopped breathing. Thanks to the fast action of doctors and nurses, Isabella started to breathe again but she would need to have a procedure to be intubated, giving her a chance to rest and fight of the infection.

Luckily, Isabella survived the procedure but did suffer from a collapsed lung and would need to be transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital for specialist care. Isabella spent the next 40 days fighting for her life.

Ryan says, “Isabella had been through so much in her short life, and we didn’t realise at the time that this was just the beginning of the most upsetting, turbulent, stressful and emotional journey of our lives. We’re eternally grateful to the staff on the unit who cared for Isabella and our entire family during this time. I can’t imagine how heart-breaking it must be for parents who can’t be by their poorly child’s side during the pandemic.”

On the 8th February 2012, little Isabella sadly passed away. Since then, Lynsey and Ryan have raised over £65,000 for Leeds Hospitals Charity to benefit the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. This money has been raised through a variety of events, including a comedy night, golf day, challenge events and Ryan even shaved ‘NHS’ into his hair during lockdown!

The family’s tireless fundraising has helped fund life-saving equipment for babies and children. This includes a state-of-the-art cot bed, so babies can have a more comfortable stay on the ward and two diaphanoscopes, to help reduce time and attempts needed to carry out cannulation on sick children. Their fundraising has also ensured that every child on the ward during the festive season has a toy to open on Christmas Day.  

Catherine Penrose, Consultant on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit said:

“The funds raised by Ryan, Lynsey and their family and friends have made a great difference to us here on the Paediatric Intensive care unit. Although it is almost a decade since we cared for their daughter, Isabella, the family have never forgotten us and have been at the forefront of so much fundraising. Thank you so much, from your PICU family and all of our patients who will benefit from your kindness.”