By: Jayden McLeod

Video: Te Ariki lives with bronchiectasis, a life-altering lung disease. Made with funding from NZ On Air.

The sport of Jiu-jitsu requires speed, agility and fitness. And for this young Tauranga boy, it’s his passion.

Twelve-year-old Te Ariki Berryman is aiming to travel to Melbourne in October for the world championships.

He’s just like any young New Zealand child but Te Ariki also lives with bronchiectasis – a life-altering lung condition where his breathing tubes have been damaged and scarred by infection.

“Once they told us, well it was a huge change for our family. It was a hard one to deal with,” says his father Riki.

Each morning after breakfast, Riki gets Te Ariki on the breathing machine – which turns sodium chloride into a vapour that helps to clear his lungs.

Riki says the family suffered many frustrating years of GP’s denying it was anything more than a viral infection. But praises the staff of the children’s ward at Tauranga Hospital.

“Te Ariki is a really amazing young man. He’s had bronchiectasis from a very young age. He comes in regularly, and almost all of the machinery that we’ve got through the Countdown Appeal is used with his care,” says nurse manager, Lynnece Dowle-Back.

The annual Countdown Appeal kicks off again this week, aiming to help thousands of children around New Zealand.

Meanwhile, doctors have suggested they could put a port into Te Ariki’s chest so that antibiotics can be more easily put into his system. But Riki isn’t sure, as it would stop his son from learning jiu-jitsu.

“As a family, we get out biking, walking and going up the Mount. Things like that allow us to keep active with him. We asked experts what we could do to help our son, and they said it was a matter of pushing him to keep his lung capacity going.”

And it’s improving the Dad’s health too. All the activity has helped him lose weight and kick diabetes to the curb.

“We’ve become a lot healthier in ourselves, both his mother and I lost 20kgs each, which is a big one for us. For me, I was a couch potato – exercise was a no-go for me.”

As Te Ariki’s primary carer during the day, Riki says he and his son have become incredibly close through adversity.

“I’d go to the end of the world for my son – I think most parents would. It shatters you, but every day you just keep chugging along, hoping that what we are doing is working.”

The signs of bronchiectasis include a runny nose and persistent fits of coughing.

The family still have some tough years ahead but they are pleased their boy is on the road to recovery, and on his way to the jiu-jitsu world championships in Melbourne.

Source: NZ Herald


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