MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Christmas is just over a week away, but Santa was in town to make an early stop at HCMC.

He paid a special visit to a little boy fighting brain cancer.

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A surprise visit from Santa helped to cheer up five-year-old Austin Harms. He has astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer.

Austin has been getting chemo and radiation to get rid of the cancer. But while the treatment has destroyed cancer cells, his father, Kraig Harms, says it’s also damaged healthy ones.

“He had radiation and he’s starting to have some side effects to the radiation. And this is kind of keeping those side effects at bay,” Harms said

Doctors are treating his injuries by using oxygen therapy in HCMC’s hyperbaric chamber. High doses of oxygen are pumped into the chamber, allowing the body to repair itself and improve blood flow.

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“This is our 13th, 14th visit. He’s got 30 total to do,” Harms said.

Santa brought presents, but it was St. Nick who got the gift.

“It totally, truly is a rotten time to be sick. And it’s kind of my present to myself when I visit the kids. That’s what I get for Christmas. That’s what I ask every year,” he said. “And it feels really, really good.”

Austin’s dad says his Christmas wish is for his son to get better.

HCMC currently has the only multi-chamber hyperbaric oxygen facility in the state. It opened up this past spring.

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Sonya Goins, Producer
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Amelia Santaniello