A DEVOTED father died days after being allowed out of hospital to celebrate his son's sixth birthday.

A1though gravely ill, David Palmer insisted doctors let him go home to enjoy the occasion with his son, also called David.

The 30-year-old keep-fit enthusiast had been told he could possibly be cured of myeloid leukaemia, and his family prayed he would live to see his only child grow up.

He was allowed home for a few days last month and appeared to be making progress.

But 20 days after the party, Mr Palmer contracted a chest infection and died after being put on a life support machine.

His widow Toni, 25, is comforting her son at the family's home in Penshaw, near Sunderland.

His father, also called David, said: "My son was a gentle man who lived for his wife and son and the rest of the family."

He said the team leader at a pharmaceutical firm was diagnosed with leukaemia in March. Doctors told him they would aim for remission and a possible cure.

Mr Palmer said: "We all lived in hope that the doctors would be right and one day David would be cured. No one ever thought he would die so young and so quickly after the illness was diagnosed."

The lifelong Sunderland football fan was laid out in his coffin in his favourite red and white colours.