“He was full of life!” exclaimed the heartbroken mom of a 4-year-old boy who tragically died from a rare medical phenomenon. Francisco Delgado III, from Texas, went swimming with his family at the Texas City dike but died in hospital almost an entire week later.
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) June 7, 2017
The baseball-loving tot had seemed fine after the family’s outing but experienced diarrhea and vomiting during the week after being in the water. His parents, however, cared for their boy at home, assuming he was suffering from a regular stomach bug.
The 4-year-old, affectionately called “Baby Frankie” by his family, deteriorated as the week went on. His father, Francisco Jr., called 911 after the little boy stopped breathing. “Out of nowhere, he just woke up,” Frankie’s father remembered. “He said ‘ahhh,’ he took his last breath, and I didn’t know what to do no more.”
“Out of nowhere, he just woke up. He said ‘ahhh’, he took his last breath and I didn’t know what to do no more.”
Tara described the ensuing scene at hospital. “I walked in,” she recalled, through tears. “I could see him lying there; they were still working on him. I’m screaming, ‘let me just touch my baby!'” she continued. “Maybe he needs his mommy’s touch.”
But little Frankie’s lungs were full of fluid and there was nothing that the doctors could do. Except, that is, to offer the heartbroken parents an explanation.
Doctors told the devastated parents that their boy had fallen victim to “dry drowning.” Parents.com explains that “dry drowning” and “secondary drowning” are both classified as submersion injuries. Dry drowning occurs when a person takes in a small amount of water through their nose or mouth, causing a spasm in the airway that will eventually make it impossible to breathe.
In what is classified as “secondary drowning,” water gets into the lungs, causing inflammation that makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for the body to convert between oxygen and carbon dioxide. The diagnosis was overwhelming to the Delgados. “He wasn’t even in the water,” Tara told CBS News in disbelief. “Just… knee high!”
While not connected to Baby Frankie’s case, Dr. Kay Leaming-Van Zandt of Texas Children’s Hospital spoke with KTRK about the signs to watch out for. “Some children will have symptoms soon after the drowning occurs,” she explained. “Some children will have symptoms later on. They may seem fine; they develop respiratory issues hours after the event.”
“It only takes a split second,” the doctor continued, highlighting the frightening rapidity of the condition. “Drowning is silent. It’s not similar to what you see in the movies, where there is a lot of commotion.”
Days after Francisco and Tara Delgado took their 4-year-old son, Frankie, swimming he started complaining about shoulder…
Through the maelstrom of information, Tara struggled to make sense of it all. “As a mother, you can’t imagine losing your only son,” she told CW39. “I feel so empty inside. I want him back so bad.”
But Tara and Francisco Jr., through their grief, decided to channel their energy into urging other parents to take common symptoms seriously. “If this was his purpose for his passing, to save other lives, then I can’t be selfish anymore,” Tara shared. It turned out to be an admirable decision.
Garon Vega, from Colorado, was able to save the life of his 2-year-old son after recognizing the symptoms of “dry drowning” from Tara and Francisco Jr.’s story, says the Independent. Vega’s toddler Gio swallowed water during a trip to the community pool. Shortly after, he ran a fever and developed difficulty breathing.
An x-ray confirmed Vega’s worst fears; there was fluid in Gio’s lungs. Doctors were able to save the little boy and told Vega that without his quick thinking, Gio may not have survived the night. Vega’s debt of gratitude to the Delgados was immediate.
“I feel like I needed to reach out to the parents of little Frankie and tell them,” Vega opened up to ABC 13. “I don’t know how to word it, but their little boy saved our little boy’s life.”
“There was a purpose.”