Four-year-old Travonne Rhoda, of Kraaifontein, has spent most of his short life in hospital after being diagnosed with a deadly lung disease when he was only six months old.
It all started when Travonne developed a persistent cough that had his parents and doctors baffled because no matter what they tried the cough just would not just disappear.
Doctors struggled for almost two years to diagnose the cough, claiming it might be a rare case of pneumonia, until late in 2017 when he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known as popcorn lung.
The disease obstructs the small airways of the lungs due to inflammation and is incurable.
During his four years of being ill, Travonne has only been at home briefly five times.
According to his mother, Simone Rhoda, doctors prefer to have the toddler at hospital to provide him with the best possible medical care.
In June last year, Travonne was discharged from hospital but then returned a day later due to him not coping well without the assistance from doctors.
In September last year, Travonne took a turn for the worse.
Ms Rhoda said she thought it was the end for little Travonne when doctors at Bellville Melomed called her from work urgently, saying he might not make it through the afternoon.
“My son is a warrior; he proved all of us wrong. Despite what the doctors predicted, Travonne would always show us that he will continue fighting.”
Travonne is being kept on a ventilator to help him with his breathing, and on his bad days, doctors put the little boy on life support.
His ward is in a private part of the hospital as he contracts infections easily because of his weak immune system.
According to Ms Rhoda, Travonne is well known by hospital staff and is very fond of the female doctors and nurses rather than men.
She said her son is a quick thinker and has a bubbly personality.
“He is a little charmer that, always smiling and laughing with the staff. He knows exactly who is on night shift and who will attend to him during the day. He calls them by name and because of his chatty personality, the staff have no problem sitting by him for hours to make small talk.”
She said having Travonne live at hospital had taken a toll on the way she runs her house and the little attention she can provide for her 15-year-old son.
“My 15-year-old son hates seeing his brother on a breathing machine or on life support and will only visit his brother on his very good days but he has accepted that I have to be there for Travonne and for him too.”
On February 8, Travonne was surprised by local Afrikaans artist, Early B. The visit was organised by hospital staff.
“On the day, doctors wanted to cancel the visit from Early B because my son was not doing so well, but the minute the artist stood next to his bed and started rapping, Travonne was up on his bed shaking his shoulders while the staff were clapping.”
Ms Rhoda said she was overwhelmed with the support she had from people following the “Travonne Rhoda” Facebook page. She encouraged people to keep her son and family in their prayers.