Local toddler battles rare disease with a smile

Local News

Watching three-year-old Dominic Renaldo play, you wouldn’t guess he’s battling a rare disease. 

Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis or RRP is a mouthful, literally. 

“It’s a rare disease caused by the human Papillomavirus. It causes tumor-like lesions to grow from his nose all the way down to his chest cavity on his vocal chords,” explained Dominic’s mom Amanda Wynn.

There’s less than two cases of RRP per every 100,000 children in the U.S.

The lesions caused by the condition have to be removed from Dominic’s vocal chords every three weeks. 

“It’s kind of like mowing a lawn. You just keep up with it otherwise they go wild and they could cause him to suffocate,” Dominic’s dad Sam Renaldo told News 4.

The toddler is in a medical gown a lot at least once a month for operations. Staff at Oishei Children’s Hospital have gotten to know Dominic pretty well.

“He’s a good kid, he’s super sweet,” Child Life Specialist Tara Young said. 

“He’s always in good spirits, he comes out smiling, talking to the nurses, stealing their hearts. He’s obtained quite a reputation at the hospital,” Wynn said of her toddler. 

Whether it’s playing race cars with dad, or dressing up a stuffed animal in a hospital gown, the staff at Oishei knows just how to make their tiniest patients feel safe.

“It’s kind of fun and goofy things that we do to help make the hospital the little more fun,” Young said.

Despite being hooked up to equipment and surrounded by doctors every three weeks, Dominic is always smiling. 

“I think its definitely harder on us than it is on him. Whenever he wakes up from the anesthesia he gets to play and do whatever he does normally, but we’re in the hospital,” Sam Renaldo told News 4.

Sam knows Dominic will battle this his whole life; there’s no known cure for RRP. He just hope his son’s optimism stays as strong as it is now.

The family also hopes by sharing their story, other families battling RRP or other difficult diagnoses feel like they’re not alone. 

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