FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ A boy who was considered clinically dead when he was pulled from a frozen river after 45 minutes underwater will be released from the hospital Monday, hospital officials said Thursday.

Alvaro Garza Jr., 11, welcomed the news that he would be home in time for Christmas, said Jane Heilmann, a spokeswoman for St. Luke's Hospitals.

''He can't wait to go home,'' Ms. Heilmann said. ''He's doing great.''

Alvaro was brought to the hospital Dec. 4 after falling through ice on the Red River near his family's Moorhead, Minn., apartment. Doctors were unable to detect any sign of life in the youth.

But within four days of the near-drowning, the boy was able to communicate with his father and identify other family members, amazing his doctors and capturing the hearts of thousands of well-wishers.

Hundreds of cards, letters and gifts, many accompanied by money, poured into the hospital from around the country. By Thursday, more than $27,000 had been received, Ms. Heilmann said.

Alvaro began therapy sessions four days ago to strengthen the muscles in his legs and improve his range of motion, said Kathy Borge, a hospital spokeswoman. He will continue the treatment daily as an outpatient, she said.

The boy has some difficulty in walking and in grasping things, but ''that's just going to come with time,'' Ms. Borge said. ''He's been through a lot, and that's not unusual, under the circumstances.''

Alvaro has no difficulty in speaking or recognizing friends and family members, she said.