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Brave child (4) keeps on smiling

Despite being in and out of hospital due to his illness, Travonne Caleb Rhoda (4), still has a zest for life and will do anything to put a smile on your face.

The four-year-old from Bernadino Heights was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans better known as popcorn lung when he was just six months old.

This disease, which is sadly incurable, causes chronic inflammation that obstructs the smallest airways of the lungs.

Travonne’s mother, Simone Rhoda (36), says whenever he gets a virus, part of his lung “goes away”. He currently only has 30% lung capacity left.

Simone says it’s been four and a half years now, so she has learned to deal with her son’s illness. “It is quite difficult and tiring, but because it’s been so long you just learn how to cope. I don’t know how, but you do.”

Caleb is currently hospitalised at Melomed Bellville and although it is difficult Simone describes the hospital staff as “family”. They have been supporting her family for the last four and a half years.

Simone says Caleb is the bravest soul she has ever met.

“If I had his condition, I don’t think I would cope. He just has a zest for life.”

She says it doesn’t matter how sick he is, he will still make you smile.

“When he was on life support and heavily sedated he still took his mic and wanted to sing. I think singing is his therapy.”

According to Simone, her son loves “Ben10” from Early B, he enjoys listening Emo Adams, Bruno Mars and enjoys watching YouTube videos.

Simone says despite his illness, they try to create a normal life for him as far as possible. He follows a Grade R curriculum.

“The hospital will assist him with this, and they let him draw and teach him his alphabet.

“Although Caleb has been hospitalised since September, there are talks of him coming home, but we do not know when.”

When he is ready to go home, she says his room and the environment he lives in needs to be sterile.

“We need to take out the carpet in the room for his allergies. We need to set up the room for him. We need a bed, bedding, cupboards and his machinery needs to be at home.”

She says her main concern is that the medical aid only gives him two months of care. “We need to get a caregiver. It must be someone who knows and understands his condition and knows what to do in case of an emergency,” says Rhoda.

Travonne will celebrate his fifth birthday on Sunday 21 July. He is very excited for his birthday because he knows he is going to get presents and there will be a lot of visitors.

There will be a raffle to help the family with medical bills.

Tickets cost R50. The winner will be announced on Travonne’s birthday, Sunday 21 July. Entries close on Saturday 20 July at 12am. The prize needs to be redeemed in Cape Town and can be given to a friend for those who reside out of Cape Town. Those interested are welcome to buy more than one entry.

The more entries, the bigger the chance of winning!

Anyone can contribute without buying a raffle ticket.

To buy a raffle ticket or to assit the family in any way, please contact Simone on 082 748 7785.

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