Storm Rhoda, 18, is doing his bit to help in the early diagnosis of pneumonia. Picture: Supplied
Storm Rhoda, 18, is doing his bit to help in the early diagnosis of pneumonia. Picture: Supplied

Storm, 18, makes waves to help pneumonia patients

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Aug 7, 2020

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A rising star pupil from Camps Bay High School has created an algorithm that can identify pneumonia in paediatric and adult patients.

Storm Rhoda, 18, told the Weekend Argus he wanted to help his local community especially as pneumonia is a global issue which causes many deaths worldwide. The algorithm uses X-rays to assist doctors in diagnosing patients.

Rhoda won multiple awards for his projects at expos around the country. Recently, he was chosen to represent South Africa at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in New York City but had to submit virtually. He placed 52nd for his project in the Robotics and Intelligent Machines category.

Last year at a school expo the coding boffin was asked to find a problem or something to solve in the local community. “I decided to do pneumonia. My momentum came from family, friends and school. Taking my project to different radiologists gave me confidence saying that my model was working and that gave me confidence,” said Rhoda.

He added that some people say it's a software developing project, some people say its talent but he says its just hard work and passion.

“It took me three months to complete the project. Writing and creating the code took me about 12 hours. It is still in the early stages, there is room for improvements to be made and may be used in other medical scenarios,” Rhoda added.

The young man has other interests which include basketball, socialising, reading and coding.

“I also like family time. My main focus has been my academics and physical and mental health. Trying to keep in contact with friends and family,” said Rhoda.

He plans to study either BSC in Computer Science or Business Management.

“I would like to stay in Cape Town but I wouldn't mind going to Pretoria or Johannesburg,” he added.

Dr Yousuf Vadachia, a radiologist, said he was very impressed when Rhoda came to him with his project.

“I guided him in terms of the x-rays. Myself and another radiologist collated some x-rays so that he could train the programme. The project showed a lot of initiative. This has legs to be be used,” said Vadachia.

Olga Peel from Cape Town Expo for Young Scientists told the Weekend Argus Rhoda’s innovative ideas were incredible especially as he taught himself about coding and programming.

“His way of approaching the problem and finding a solution is something we expect of a post-gad student, not a school pupil. His ability to communicate with experts and get their support is a sign of his ability to look at the problem and find the sources to assist him,” she said.

Peel added that his dedication is to be admired, not many pupils would have gone the extra mile to learn more and apply the information to the problem.

Any pupil from Grades 6 -12 in Cape Town can enter the Expo for Young Scientists. “Their project needs to be mathematical, computer science, scientific or social sciences in nature. This year we have moved Expo online and are accepting projects throughout the year till December,” explained Peel.

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