Parents’ Warn Of The Dangers of “Dry Drowning” After 4-Year-Old’s Death

Parents’ Warn Of The Dangers of “Dry Drowning” After 4-Year-Old’s DeathThe parents of a four-year-old boy who died from dry drowning almost a week after swimming are warning others about the condition.

Francisco Delgado III, known as Frankie, was playing in knee-deep water during a Memorial Day weekend trip to Texas City Dike when a wave from a distant ship knocked him over and his head went under, said his father, Francisco Delgado Jr. A family friend picked him up, and Frankie said he was OK.

“He had fun the rest of the day,” Delgado said. “I never thought nothing of it.”. Frankie continued to show symptoms of stomach bug and his parents decided to treat him at home.

The youngster had seemed to recover but woke one night complaining of shoulder pain, and had difficulty  breathing. He died a short time later in hospital.


What is dry drowning?

Doctors found fluid in Frankie’s lung, which they believe was a result of dry drowning. Dry drowning, which occurs when a swimmer is on land, is the result of water left in the lungs that causes edema, or swelling, said Dr. Juan Fitz, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. When the air passages in the lungs are filled with water, they are unable to exchange oxygen to and from the blood, causing blood oxygen levels to drop and the heart to slow.

Fitz said dry drowning most commonly occurs in young children. It is difficult to predict whether a child is going to be affected, unless they were obviously struggling in the water, he said.



What is secondary drowning?

A similar condition, secondary drowning, occurs when water gets into the lungs, causing inflammation and difficulty breathing. With dry drowning, the water does not reach the lungs, but it causes vocal chords to spasm and tighten which restricts air flow.



Symptoms of both conditions, which usually affect children, include trouble breathing, persistent coughing, sleepiness, forgetfulness, fatigue and vomiting.

Delgado hopes to raise awareness about his son’s story to help prevent other families from experiencing their pain.

“My son was special. My son was so good. He was the best,” he said. “All he wanted to do was put a smile on my face.”


Always call an emergency number if you have any concerns that your child may be experiencing dry or secondary drowning.


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