SHEFFIELD United players swapped their red-and-white kit for red-and-white hats when they played Santa on a visit to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital wards yesterday.
Little Harry Brogan - who had to have his stomach removed because of a rare condition - is staying in the hospital for Christmas.
But the seven-year-old football fan had his day brightened when the Blades stars visited, bearing gifts.
The pupil at Immaculate Conception Primary School in Spinkill has been in hospital for six weeks after investigative surgery discovered the arteries to his stomach were clotted - and that his stomach had to be removed.
He is now able to eat thanks to a new ‘channel’ to his bowel but will have to go back to hospital for regular check-ups.
Dad Chris, of Clowne near Chesterfield, said: “We came in because he had stomach pains and found out his stomach had ‘died’ because all the arteries were clotted.
“It’s very rare, they’ve not given us a name for the condition, just that it’s more normally seen in people aged 17 and up.
“It was a surprise to us that you could function without a stomach.
“We’ve found out today he’s got an obstruction so we’ll be here for Christmas, but everybody will be coming to see him.”
Mum Amanda added: “His surgeon said in 20 years he’d never done this kind of operation and he’d probably never see it again.”
Harry - and sister Lauren, 12, who plays for a United girls’ squad - were showered with football memorabilia and spoke to players.
Chris added: “Visits like this make him smile and more chirpy because he will lay there all day.
“To see him doing that is great.”
Blades stars also met Rotherham patient Nathan Gavin, 15, who was in hospital after the latest surgery on his club foot.
Nathan, a pupil at St Bernard’s in Rotherham, said: “It’s great to have the visit because it can be boring sitting here and it gives you something to look forward to.”
And they called in to see 11-year-old Charley O’Mara before her operation on Friday for a fractured hip.
She is hoping to go home for Christmas - and will also star on Blue Peter this Thursday in a piece about children in hospital during the festive season.
United defender, Neill Collins, a dad himself, said: “It’s important for people at this time, when you want to be at home with your family, to try to give them some sort of boost.
“When you’ve got kids as well you really look forward to Christmas, you just want them to be healthy.
“We just want to do as much as we can, but they are in the best possible place and the staff who work here are phenomenal.”
Some players from Sheffield United - including special guest ex-players - also visited cancer patients at Weston Park Hospital yesterday.