Christmas came a little early this year for Austin Harms of Norwood Young America when he was greeted by Santa after receiving hyperbaric medicine treatment at Hennepin County Medical Center on Monday, Dec. 17. Harms is fighting some of the side effects of cancer treatment and is receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the new hyperbaric chamber.
“He’s so upbeat – so happy, considering everything he’s been through,” said Austin’s dad, Kraig Harms, as he chatted with Santa in the waiting room. But when Santa asked Kraig how he and his wife were holding up, he tearfully shared that they are “hanging in there, but I think it’s harder on us than it is on Austin.”
When Austin finished his treatment, Santa entered the chamber and surprised him with a booming “Ho Ho Ho!” and a bagful of gifts. The smile on Austin’s face said it all: it’s Christmastime, and Santa didn’t forget. But Austin had a gift for Santa, too.
Santa shared that after the holidays he would be visiting the hyperbaric chamber for treatment, too, and so he had questions for Austin about what it was like. Austin was able to reassure him that it wasn’t scary at all, and that Santa would be fine.
“I feel much better now after talking to you about it,” Santa whispered to Austin. “Thank you so much, Austin!”
After opening his gifts (including a “Bernie the Rescue Dog” toy), Austin got a big hug from Santa, who reminded him that he would be stopping at his house on Christmas Eve.
“I will see you next week! Now I’ve got to go back to my sleigh – because it’s parked on the roof — next to the helipad — with the reindeer! Ho, Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!”