A young dad who is due to donate part of his liver to his eight-month-old son said he would give him his heart if he needed it.

Blake Young was born prematurely at 24 weeks and six days gestation, on January 24, weighing a tiny 1lb 11ounces. He is now suffering from liver failure and is in desperate need of a transplant to save his life.

From the moment he was born, his parents Dionne Winthrop and Mark Young, of Mardale Road, Raffles, have watched him fight every step of the way.

After being delivered by emergency caesarean section at Sunderland Royal Hospital, Blake was put on a ventilator but his lungs filled up with blood the night he was born.

Three weeks later, he had an operation on his heart to help him get off the ventilator. He then had laser eye surgery to prevent him going blind. He’s also had numerous blood transfusions and two hernias removed on three occasions.

“He could just fit in your hand. We weren’t allowed to hold him for four weeks, we were only allowed to touch him,” said Dionne, 23. “He was in an incubator for a long time.”

Blake was then diagnosed with biliary-atresia, a disease of the liver’s bile ducts that causes them to become inflamed and blocked.

He underwent kasai procedure to help prevent liver damage, but this failed, leaving him in need of a transplant. Thankfully, Mark, 22, is a match, meaning there is a better chance of Blake’s body accepting the new organ.

Mark said as soon as he found out he could help there was no question about it.

“I was over the moon. I would do anything for my son. I would give him my heart if he needed it,” he said.

“I’m nervous for Blake and for myself but I would do anything to save him. They say his liver is never going to work. It’s failing fast.”

Until Blake was born there was no sign anything was wrong. Nothing had been picked up on scans and the young couple were looking forward to the birth of their first child in May.

But Dionne and Mark have only had the chance to spend a total of four weeks at home with Blake since he was born.

He was rushed into hospital in Carlisle six weeks ago when his stools turned pale and his eyes went yellow, signs his liver was failing.

The family were transferred to Leeds General Infirmary and will need to stay there until after Blake and Mark undergo and recover from the transplant operations.

Blake now weighs about 12lb but medics want him to gain more weight to give him the best possible chance of the surgery being a success.

“They have given him an eight-week mark and if he still doesn’t put as much weight on as he should they are still going to go ahead with the operation but it’s more risky for him,” said Mark.

The couple are taking every day as it comes but said it has been incredibly hard.

“I’m numb everywhere, I physically feel numb. I can’t think straight. It’s hard to explain how I feel.

"Words can’t describe how me and his dad feel,” said Dionne.

“Blake is my everything. I’m still struggling and still adapting to it all.

“I just want to get him home and get him well enough and we can all settle.

“After the transplant, hopefully this will be the last bit but he will be on medication his whole life and we are forever going to have check-ups.”

Mark, who will be transferred to St James’s University Hospital for his transplant operation, added: “We’re both still young and it’s been extremely hard for us because it’s our first baby and he’s been through so much.

“He’s a little warrior. He is constantly smiling. He smiles as soon as he’s come out of an operation but the poor little boy doesn’t know what he’s going through.

"I’m just hoping Blake pulls through it.”

And, while Blake is recovering from an operation he underwent earlier this week to reduce the fluid from his stomach, his mum is unable to see him.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions Dionne and Mark are having to take turns, a week at a time, to visit the ward.

“Mark misses him like I miss him. We take turns and go on Facetime. It’s just really hard,” Dionne continued.

“As a mother you feel like you want to be there all the time but you can’t.

"I’ve got to give Mark the chance to be with his son as well.”

Going back to see Blake after her week off, Dionne said “it’s the best feeling in the world” being able to hold him in her arms again.

A fundraising page was set up by Jill Glencross, a friend of Dionne’s aunty, after she heard what they were going through.

She wanted to help ease the financial burden on the couple, as Mark was laid off two weeks before Blake was born and Dionne’s maternity leave has now come to an end.

“It’s nice to know there is people looking out for us and saying we are doing an amazing job but it’s just so hard.

"We are down here and the only support we’ve got is between the two of us,” added Mark.

To donate visit the Help Baby Blake page on gofundme.com.