A DOTING mum has spoken of her joy after her six-year-old son got to spend Christmas and new year at home for the first time.
Louise Merrick is looking forward to more happy times in 2015 with her son Sam, who has spent most of his young life in hospital wards.
Sam suffers from a range of health problems after being born prematurely and every festive season for the past six years has been spent at either Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham or St Mary’s Hospital in Milton.
But Sam’s condition, which involves a weak immune system, is improving after he had a bone marrow transplant from his brother Kiran three years ago.
This year he was able to open his presents at the family home in Bere Road, Denmead, with his brothers Kiran, 10, Liam, nine, Jordan, 14, and dad Paul, 39.
Mrs Merrick, 34, said: ‘He was just over the moon that he was at home.
‘It’s not just the presents – it’s staying at home with the family.
‘He got to stay and play board games with the family.
‘The next day he was saying “I was home for the whole day!”
‘He was so happy – you could see it in his eyes.
‘He kept coming up and giving us a cuddle.’
It was still touch-and-go on Christmas Eve as Sam needed a trip to Queen Alexandra Hospital for steroid treatment, but the rest of the festive holiday was smooth sailing.
She added: ‘Sam had a lot of Frozen stuff and his main present was a bike.
‘It shows how far he’s come.
‘A couple of years ago he would never be able to ride a bike or have the breath to ride a bike.’
Mr and Mrs Merrick set up the Sam’s Haven charity to provide short breaks for families of sick children.
Last year, £33,000 was raised from a range of fundraiser, including an abseil down the Spinnaker Tower and a 24-hour tennisathon at Southsea Tennis Club.
It meant 17 families were able to have a much-needed rest from hospital visits and stayed in a caravan in Church Farm, Pagham, near Bognor.
‘We are aiming for 25 families this year,’ said Mrs Merrick.
‘The feedback from families has been amazing. It’s surprising how a few days out can make such a difference.’
For more information see samshaven.com.