Marley Enjakovic to undergo surgery after having plastic flower lodged in his throat for five years

Marley Enjakovic to undergo surgery after having plastic flower lodged in his throat for five years

Skye Enjakovic just knew there was something wrong with her son’s throat.

As a toddler, Marley had begun to choke and vomit when eating food.

“We always assumed that he was eating too fast because it would self [resolve] and there’d be no other issues,” she told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“As time went on, that’s when his wheezing started to happen and he just was in and out of hospital and doctors’ surgeries.”

The Adelaide boy was diagnosed with asthma, and initially Ms Enjakovic believed her son did have the respiratory disease.

But eventually the use of a puffer no longer helped with the wheezing or coughing.

In December 2021, Marley had a coughing fit so severe he was rushed to hospital.

His oxygen levels were low and a chest x-ray showed something was missing with his trachea and oesophagus.

A bronchoscopy revealed Marley had a tracheoesophageal fistula, which is a connection from his oesophagus to his trachea.

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Marley had the flower removed from his throat earlier this year.

“Meaning that food, drink and salvia had basically been entering his trachea (airways) and going on to his lungs,” Ms Enjakovic wrote online.

A week later he was flown to Melbourne for surgery as the connection was sitting close to the main artery to his heart.

Just prior to the surgery, doctors used cameras to take another look down Marley’s airway and that was when they discovered a plastic arts and craft flower lodged in his throat.

Up until this point, inflammation had prevented doctors from finding the foreign object in his throat.

Ms Enjakovic believes the plastic flower could have been there for up to five years, as that was when Marley had begun to show symptoms.

“I just knew there was something wrong with his throat and I couldn’t figure out what it was,” Ms Enjakovic said.

“I never thought it would be a foreign body, but it’s just not normal for a child with asthma to choke and vomit over food and drink and literally cough for hours straight.”

The flower was removed in January, but Marley, now 8, will undergo more surgery in Melbourne on Tuesday to remove the connection between his oesophagus and trachea.

“They will do a cut along his chest, compress his right lung and then peel the oesophagus off the trachea and then cut out that connection that’s caused from the foreign body,” Ms Enjakovic said.

Marley Enjakovic
Marley Enjakovic had ongoing health issues for years.(Supplied: Skye Enjakovic)

“Then [they will] take a little bit of muscle from his chest and put it between the oesophagus and trachea so it doesn’t create another fistula.

“The surgical team in Adelaide did a really good job trying to get his body to heal [the fistula] and it has done an amazing job, but it’s just not healing any further and now we have to go to, unfortunately, having another operation.”

As well as preparing for the upcoming surgery, the family is raising funds for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“We spent a lot of time at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and honestly we had the best care by the surgical team there,” Ms Enjakovic said.

“Nothing was left unturned, even his surgeon from Adelaide is coming to his operation in Melbourne, that’s how much they’ve cared for and looked after him.”