Four-year-old Cape Town-born Travonne Rhoda has spent almost all of this life in a hospital bed after being diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans – also called ‘popcorn lung’ – when he was just six months old.
One day, Travonne developed a persistent cough that seemed to persist no matter what his mother or doctors did to try and treat it. Over the years, the inside of a hospital and the sounds of patients coming and going became home to the tiny tot as he spent his time in hospital waiting on a diagnosis.
It was just last year that doctors were finally able to give a name for Rhoda’s terrible disease that had plagued him as far back as he can remember.
Travonne was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a disease that causes chronic inflammation that obstructs the smallest airways of the lungs and which is sadly incurable.
Doctors believe the condition could have been triggered by the pneumonia Travonne suffered from as a baby. The damage done to his lungs is irreversible, says the little boy’s mom, Simone Rhoda (35).
Simone told YOU in the Melomed Belville Hospital that the little boy is currently on a ventilator.
As Travonne has tackled his disease with great courage, he won the hearts of those around him who can’t help but love his fiery little soul.
The nursing staff that visit his room on a daily basis have become like his family and no visitors go untouched by the cheerful little face beaming from his hospital bed.
Travonne has spent the past two Christmases and New Years in hospital. In June 2018 he was discharged only to be readmitted a day later.
In September he spent a few precious days at home before he had to be taken back to hospital and has been on a ventilator four times since then.
“It takes its toll. It’s especially stressful and hard on me when I’m at work and he’s at home. The longest he’s been home was a month and a half,” Simone told News24.
Doctors prefer to keep Travonne in hospital so they can provide him with the best care.
On September 29, 2018, Travonne’s organs failed, the nurses called frantically to let his family know and when they arrived at the hospital he was surrounded by a circle of nurses praying for him.
“People’s prayers are the only thing that’s keeping us standing,” Simone says.
To help cover medical costs, many fundraisers have taken place in the past four years, including an annual golf day and the Travonne Rhoda Sevens Rugby Tournament. Last year, Emo Adams visited Travonne and since then he has considered him his bestie.
The pre-schooler was discharged in September but has been asking to go back because the hospital is home to him.
The struggle still goes on for this unbreakable tiny warrior and many are praying for a miracle to bring him home, his mother says there is no cure for him but she asks that people keep praying nonetheless.