Little Harry Brogan – who had to have his stomach removed because of a rare condition – spent the festive season in hospital.
But the seven-year-old football fan had his day brightened when Sheffield United stars visited his ward Sheffield Children’s Hospital bearing gifts.
The pupil at Spinkhill’s Immaculate Conception Primary School has been in hospital for six weeks after investigative surgery discovered the arteries to his stomach were clotted – and that the organ had to be removed.
He is now able to eat with a new “channel” to his bowel and will have to go back to hospital for regular check ups.
Dad Chris, of Clowne, said: “We came in because he had stomach pains and found out that 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 over.
“It was a surprise to us that you could function without a stomach.”
He added that although the brave youngster spent Christmas day in hospital the whole family had been to visit little Harry.
Mum Amanda said: “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.
“To see him doing that is great.”