Coronavirus: Father and son return home after Leeds hospital lockdown

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The Stephenson family
Image caption,
James Stephenson (left) and his son Oliver (centre) received a round of applause as they returned home from hospital

A four-year-old boy and his father have been reunited with their family after the lockdown separated them for seven weeks while receiving cancer treatment.

Oliver Stephenson was admitted into Leeds General Infirmary on 27 April for chemotherapy after being diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in January.

His father, James, has been at his bedside but his mother, Laura, and brother Alfie were unable to visit.

"It was like torture waiting to come home," James Stephenson, 32, said.

"It's amazing to be back. Alfie came running up and gave a massive cuddle, it was lovely. It's been a long time coming.

"Oliver's emotional. His little world is just getting back to normal.

"He's been away from everybody for so long. Obviously he's been sat in a [hospital] room for seven weeks and not really moved so he's very weak and edgy but he's very relieved and happy to be home."

Image source, Stephenson family
Image caption,
Oliver, four, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January
Image caption,
He was discharged from hospital on Friday afternoon

The pair, from Ackworth, were shielding and had to share a room "about 4.5m (15ft) square" with a separate bathroom and a window while Oliver received high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell treatment.

Mrs Stephenson, 34, said she was "overwhelmed" with excitement when they returned on Friday evening, after being told in the morning her son was likely to be discharged days later.

"It's been a real emotional rollercoaster because I was gutted and then suddenly at half-past three I got a phone call saying 'yeah we're coming home'.

"It's been really, really difficult not being able to look after Oliver when he's so poorly. Seeing him from a distance and seeing him on the phone has been so so hard, not to be there for him."

Image caption,
The support has been "incredible", the family said

She said the family would be celebrating three-year-old Alfie's belated birthday after they were unable to celebrate two weeks ago.

Supporters and neighbours lined the street with banners and gave a round of applause during the homecoming.

"The support has been overwhelming and unreal," said Mr Stephenson.

He said a fundraising campaign to get Oliver to New York to take part in a clinical trial for a vaccine aimed at reducing the chance of relapse had raised £190,000, of which £90,000 had been donated while they were in hospital.

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