A young boy who has struggled with breathing issues for most of his life had a small plastic toy lodged in his throat.
A cough has lingered throughout eight-year-old Marley’s short life, which had made it hard for him to breathe and caused him to frequently vomit.
Marley developed a cough when he was around two years old, but his parents did not think much of it at the time.
Doctors diagnosed him with asthma a couple of years later, but his puffer did nothing as his condition gradually grew worse.
His Dad Jay Enjakovic said they thought something did not add up, so the Adelaide family of four vowed to find the reason behind Marley’s poor health.
“With Marley in the last few years playing a lot of sport and football and basketball, it slowly went downhill pretty quick. He couldn’t run out his games, coughing a lot more, bringing a lot of food up, bringing water up every time he ate,” Jay told the Today Show on Tuesday.
“That’s when Skye and I really pressed and pushed and asked more questions. We really wanted an answer because we had a feeling it was not asthma.”
After multiple trips in and out of hospital, Marley’s condition reached a breaking point in December of last year when he became “quite critical” and an ambulance was called for him.
Doctors ordered an x-ray when he arrived, but Marley’s mother Skye Enjakovic said they made one crucial change.
“Luckily his x-ray pictures were taken a little bit higher up this time and they realised there was something going on with his oesophagus and his trachea,” she said.
Marley’s surgeon later told his nervous parents that their son had been diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula.
“It is a connection from his oesophagus to his trachea, meaning that food, drink and saliva had basically been entering his trachea (airway) and going on to his lungs,” Skye explained.
“Children are born with this condition but it is always picked up either in pregnancy or at birth and is operated at a few days old.”
Marley’s surgeon could not look down his trachea due to the inflammation, so he was later sent to Melbourne children’s hospital for a surgical repair on December 27.
But before operating, the surgeons decided to take another look at his trachea.
Skye “nervously” waited for hours to find out what they had found, but she was not prepared for their shocking discovery.
“A few hours later I received a phone call to meet his surgeon at recovery where they pulled a piece of plastic, an arts and craft plastic flower, from his airway,” she said.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it! This was the whole cause of everything! I was relieved I finally had an answer.
“We are unsure how long this price of plastic was lodged in his airway, but my guess is at least five years as that’s when we started noticing small issues which became worse over time.”
Jay said he was in “disbelief” and “complete and utter shock” when he heard the news, particularly over the plastic flower they recovered.
“Wish it was manly like a hot wheels or something,” he joked.
He said the family hold no resentment towards the doctors who did not discover the reason for Marley’s condition earlier, when the family always believed it was not asthma.
“Sometimes you have to push that little bit more you know, doctors don’t know everything,” Jay said.
In fact, the family are raising money for the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation in Adelaide and have already passed $1300.
But the while the source of Marley’s health issues has been found, that does not mean his battle is over yet.
“Unfortunately Marley has not healed as suspected from Melbourne, after the inflammation had settled the connection was still there,” Skye said.
“He honestly is the strongest kid, he hardly ever complains, he is so brave!”
Marley will be undergoing major surgery in Melbourne on Tuesday to repair his airway and oesophagus.