Special care lives up to its name . . .

Declan Drennan now
Declan Drennan now

AFTER a healthy pregnancy and a straightforward labour, Donna Drennan was looking forward to the safe arrival of her baby son.

But within minutes of being born, her son Declan was giving medical staff at Calderdale Royal Hospital serious cause for concern. He had turned blue and was having difficulty breathing - but no-one seemed to be sure exactly what was wrong.

“It was very frightening. I just remember seeing about 15 doctors and medical staff attending to him. At first it was thought he had a heart problem and that he might have to be transferred to Leeds or Sheffield but then a collapsed lung or pneumothorax was diagnosed,” said 29-year-old Donna. “He also had an infection and was very sick. One of the doctors was due to go off duty but she said that she would stay until she had found out exactly what was wrong. It was like trying to find the piece of a jigsaw.”

Declan, now a happy and healthy three-year-old, was on a ventilator in the special care baby unit for 48 hours and underwent surgery to insert a chest drain.

“At the time Declan was born it was much harder for my husband, Sean, and my mum who had worked as a nurse.

“I think I was in shock and was still recovering from the delivery so they were much more aware of what was happening and how serious it was,” said Donna.

For Sean seeing the doctors and nurses battling to save his baby son’s life was a terrifying experience. “I was asked to leave the room and there were nurses and doctors running in and out. The first 24 hours were very scary. We were told not to expect too much.

“In all Declan was in an incubator for about a week and he just seemed to get stronger and stronger. He went from critical to stable quite quickly.

“He came home with Donna after about 10 days. We were told that the fact he was such a healthy weight - 8lbs 11oz - when he was born had helped him.

“We were warned that he might experience fits or other problems later in life but, after having regular check-ups since he was a baby, he’s just been discharged as an out-patient. He’s a lovely little boy, lively and into everything,” said Sean, who is 30.

Donna and Sean, of Clifton, work together at Clipper Logistics Group, Armytage Road, Brighouse and have never forgotten the dedication of staff in the special care baby unit. Together with three friends – brothers Tim and Andrew Hatfield and Tim’s son Sam – Sean took part in the Three Peaks Challenge at the beginning of the month and has raised £450 with money still coming in.

They set off at 4am and covered the distance in 12 hours.

“I had it in my mind that I would like to do something to say thank you to the special care baby unit and Declan getting the all-clear gave me the push I needed,” said Sean

“I put in a fair bit of training and I was delighted to do all three peaks – Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent – in my target time.

“I was helped in a huge way by the support I’ve had from my colleagues at Clipper, family and friends.”