Ever heard of dry drowning? Neither had a Texas father before his four-year-old son died nearly a week after inhaling water during their swimming trip.
Dry drowning, a rare condition that can cause death hours or even days after swimming, occurs after the water gets inhaled through the nose or mouth and the liquid gets into the lungs.
A Texas father, Frankie Delgado, had to find out about dry drowning (secondary drowning) the hard way, when his four-year-old son died nearly a week after a swimming trip ahead of Memorial Day.
Speaking to People magazine about the death of his son, Frankie Delgado III, whom the family often called “Baby Frankie,” the father warns that dry drowning “could happen to anyone.”
“I lost [Frankie] and I’ll never see him again.”
Frankie died days after his father, mother, and three sisters went to Texas City Dike on May 28 ahead of Memorial Day. The week following the trip was a nightmare for the family, who had never heard of dry drowning before.
Delgado says his little boy would wake up in the middle of the night to vomit and was suffering from diarrhea. Such symptoms did not alarm the family, as the father says “there’s nothing uncommon about that.”
“We didn’t think [Frankie] was gonna pass away or anything like that.”
But such symptoms, as well as coughing, fever, mood swings, and struggling for breath, are also the symptoms of dry drowning, according to USA Today. Symptoms could manifest themselves 24 to 48 hours after inhaling water.
Frankie died at his sister’s home on Friday night, and it was a restless night for the four-year-old boy, as Delgado tells. According to the father, the little boy woke up once complaining about shoulder pain and then the next time he woke up it was to take his last, deep breath.
“He just grabbed his chest and screamed. He took a deep breath and his eyes kind of rolled back, then he laid back down.”
Delgado recalls he couldn’t understand what was happening to his son, so he started trying to wake him up. But then the little boy exhaled, and when the father picked up his shirt, his chest was no longer moving.
The little boy was taken to the nearest hospital, but it was too late. Doctors concluded that Frankie died after his brain lacked oxygen for over an hour.
The family did not even suspect that their swimming trip could be to blame for Frankie’s deteriorating symptoms, as it had been nearly a week after they went swimming.
Though Delgado does recall the moment when he believes the little boy inhaled the water and triggered dry drowning. The father says his boy was in knee-deep water when he was knocked over by a huge wave.
The lungs can become irritated from inhaling water through the nose or mouth, and that fluid in the lungs can cause respiratory issues, brain damage, and even cause death.
Delgado, who says he won’t be able to “deal with this again,” cannot hold back tears after losing his boy and even says he’ll never take his daughters to beaches, or even water ponds or lakes.
While the exact reasons why dry drowning occurs in some kids after inhaling water, while other kids are fine, are unknown, children with respiratory issues, like asthma, are more prone to secondary drowning, according to NBC citing Dr. Ray Pitetti, with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“If several hours later [after inhaling water] he starts breathing faster and is finding it harder to breathe and starts coughing a lot, then you want to bring him in.”
The Delgado family is hoping to raise awareness about dry drowning and have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses.
[Featured Image by Nromaschka/Shutterstock]