Christmas Day is going to be super-special for four-year-old Samuel Freeman. For he hasn't seen his family for four months – because he has had to live in a sterile 'bubble'.
Samuel, from Long Clawson, Leicestershire, has spent the past few months with his mum Sadie as doctors at the Great North Children's Hospital, in Newcastle, prepared him for a bone marrow transplant.
But he hasn't been able to see his dad, Adrian, or older brother, Benjamin, six, because of a rare condition which means he has no immunity to any germs.
But, if they can stay 'germ free', the four will be able to spend Christmas Day together.
Sadie, 34, told her local paper: "Samuel has been quite poorly ever since he was about eight weeks old, but we are very hopeful the bone marrow transplant he has just had will be successful in giving him a new fully-fighting immune system."
She and Samuel were allowed home to Leicestershire on December 6, but are living next door to the family home to make sure that her husband or other son have not picked up any germs before they have Christmas together.
Samuel has spent much of his life in and out of hospital as doctors tried to diagnose what was wrong with him.
He has a long medical history and had to cope with all sorts of illnesses from lung disease to stomach and bowel issues. At one point, his hands, knees and ankles swelled up and it turned out he had severe juvenile arthritis, which was down to his faulty immune system.
At the beginning of last year, Samuel was referred to the Bubble Unit, in Newcastle - one of two centres in the country specialising in children with deficient immune systems – to have a bone marrow transplant.
And he was lucky to find a a perfect match through the Anthony Nolan charity. But before the transplant, Samuel had to have very strong chemotherapy to kill off his own immune system, ready to receive a new healthy system.
His mum said: "I stayed with him in the bubble, which is a completely sterile hospital room.
"Everything has to be disinfected and you have to scrub up theatre-style before you go in the room. We kept in touch as a family through Skype but it is not the same as cuddles."
She added: "There is still a way to go and it would just be nice to have a family Christmas Day."
Sadie is now determined to raise money and awareness for the http://www.bubblefoundation.org.uk/
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