It was a tragic story that was shared around the world. But now, that tragic story has saved a life.
Four-year-old Frankie Delgado died earlier this month, and his parents believe his death was due to a rare condition called ‘dry drowning’. The little boy from Texas had been playing in shallow water with his family when he was knocked over by a wave and inhaled water.
In the days afterwards, Frankie suffered vomiting and diarrhoea, but his family didn’t think it was anything serious. About six days after the swimming trip, he grabbed his chest, screamed, then stopped breathing. He was rushed to hospital and died soon afterwards.
Medical staff told his parents that his lungs were full of fluid, and he had died from dry drowning.
Frankie’s parents, Frankie and Tara, shared his son’s story through the media, including Texas news service ABC13, hoping to raise awareness of the condition.
“I had no idea what was wrong with my boy,” Frankie’s father said tearfully.
The Delgados’ brave decision to share their story has achieved just what they hoped it would.
Late last week, ABC13 got a call from Staff Sgt Garon Vega in Colorado. He said his two-year-old son Gio had gone swimming and swallowed water. Not long afterwards, he developed a fever and began to have trouble breathing.
Aware of dry drowning from Frankie’s story on the news, Vega took Gio to the ER at his local hospital. An x-ray showed he had fluid on his lungs.
The doctor told Vega that his son would not have made it through the night.
"I feel like I needed to reach out to the parents of little Frankie and tell them, I don't know how to word it, but their little boy saved our little boy's life," Vega told ABC13. "There was a purpose. It was an unfortunate thing that happened, but if I had not told my wife that he swallowed the water, and if she had not seen that article, I think we would've ended up dispelling it as a regular sickness."
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An autopsy is yet to determine Frankie’s official cause of death. Symptoms of dry drowning include coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, fatigue and vomiting.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Frankie’s funeral expenses drew donations of more than $US45,000.