'Clean-living' half-sister of Toby Young died after headache

‘Clean-living’ daughter of Labour peer and half-sister of Toby Young died after sudden unexplained headache, inquest hears as mother says medics missed chances to save 25-year-old

  • Gaia Young, 25, was the daughter of late Labour peer Lord Michael Young
  • She had said she had felt ill on July 21 and believed she had heatstroke
  • Less than a day after she was rushed to hospital she had tragically died

The ‘clean-living’ half-sister of writer and commentator Toby Young died after a sudden unexplained headache but may have survived with ‘proper care’, her mother has told an inquest today.

Gaia Young, 25, was taken to hospital having fallen severely ill after going out for a bike ride and meeting friends on July 17, it was said.

Doctors said Ms Young, whose father was the late social entrepreneur and Labour peer Michael Young, was ‘confused’ and falling asleep when she was seen at University College Hospital.

They were initially concerned that Ms Young could be intoxicated but an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Monday was told she did not drink excessively or take recreational drugs.

Heat stroke and dehydration were also suspected but no underlying cause for the healthy 25-year-old’s rapid deterioration was found, leaving her family and friends searching for answers, the inquest heard.

Dorit Uhlemann, Lady Young, paid tribute to her ‘much-loved, beautiful and healthy’ daughter in a written statement read to the inquest on Monday.

‘I believe that with proper care she need not have died,’ Lady Young said.

‘I believe she lost the chance to live. How can it be that a previously healthy young woman dies in a hospital and yet nobody knows why?’

Gaia Young, 25, was the daughter of late Labour peer Lord Michael Young and Toby’s half-sister

Ms Young, 25, said she had felt ill on July 21 last year and believed she had got heatstroke

Lady Young said her daughter had begun suffering a ‘sudden, severe headache with awful vomiting’ at around 7.30pm at home on July 17.

‘I think that Gaia would have been very scared, embarrassed and self-conscious in hospital,’ she said.

The mother added she ‘was not kept informed’ and told the inquest that her daughter had been ‘completely misdiagnosed’ and ‘signs were misread’.

‘(Gaia) was a responsible, polite, clean-living young woman with keen interest in her own health and in her intellectual and professional development,’ Lady Young said.

‘She was also very protective over me and as her only parent left would not have wanted to worry me. She was my beloved child.

‘If anyone had asked me I would have told them, but it’s simply not possible that she would have been recreationally intoxicated.’

After arriving at hospital Ms Young, an artist, told medics ‘I made a mistake’ but was unable to give a detailed account of her day in her drowsy state, it was said.

Dr Zoe Veary, who saw Ms Young after she reached A&E, said she thought the patient may be intoxicated ‘because of her age and her history of being with friends’. 

Gaia was the half-sister of writer and commentator Toby Young and died aged just 25

Medics later assessed the risk as less likely while they explored a range of diagnostic possibilities, the inquest heard.

Ms Young appeared ‘dehydrated and agitated’ and was seen rolling on the bed and holding her abdomen, Dr Veary said.

The doctor said in a statement: ‘When I asked if she had been drinking she said ‘not enough’.

‘She often made the comment ‘I made a mistake’.’

Ms Young was given fluid resuscitation but her condition worsened and she eventually stopped breathing properly the following afternoon, the inquest heard.

She suffered respiratory arrest at around 3.15pm, which meant a procedure to diagnose her condition – known as a lumbar puncture – could not be completed, doctors said.

There was no ‘neurological recovery’ following the deterioration during the procedure and Ms Young later died on July 21, it was said.

Doctors believe she suffered a generalised cerebral edema – a life-threatening condition which leads to fluid developing in the brain, causing it to swell.

But the underlying cause of the cerebral edema, which medics said developed rapidly, remains unknown.

Dr Thomas Samuels, who was involved in the lumbar puncture, acknowledged that ‘communication during the course of the day would ideally have been better’ with Ms Young’s mother.

But he said he believed the right medical decisions were made in response to Ms Young’s condition based on her symptoms.

‘I recognise that communication during the course of the day would ideally have been better than it was,’ he said.

He added: ‘I wouldn’t have done anything differently.’

Dr Christian Hasford, who saw Ms Young on a ward before the procedure, said he felt the cause of Ms Young’s condition could be related to toxins or inflammation, but ‘did not feel this was intoxication by alcohol or a conventional recreational drug’.

Professor Michael Sheaff, a pathologist, said an autopsy showed the occurrence of a generalised cerebral edema was highly likely but added no clear medical cause of death could be found as the underlying cause of the condition had not been identified.

The inquest before Senior Coroner Mary Hassell continues on Monday.

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