"Dry Drowning" Suspected in the Death of a Texas Toddler

The cause of death of a four-year-old from Texas has been ruled as "dry drowning", a rare condition where there is a delayed reaction to inhaling water.

Frankie Delgado was playing in shallow water during a Memorial Day trip to Texas City Dike when a wave came up and knocked him over.

His father, Francisco Delgado Jr., says Frankie's head went under water but a family friend picked him up and the child appeared to be fine. 

"He had fun the rest of the day. I never thought nothing of it."

Delgado says the next night his son began to vomit and have diarrhea, but because Frankie had similar symptoms and was ruled as having a stomach bug he and his wife decided to treat him at home. 

After a week of the same symptoms, and a new addition of shoulder pain Delgado took the boy to the doctor the next day.

"I love my son so much. I'm always touching him, and I'm always talking to him when he's sleeping, and all of a sudden he just woke up. He looked at me, and he just rolled his eyes back and took a deep breath. I was like 'Frankie, what's wrong,' and I got up real quick, and I saw that he took a breath but never exhaled."  

He was rushed to the hospital and medical staff spent over an hour trying to resuscitate him, but was pronounced dead.

They found water in his lungs and around his heart and told his parents that he died of dry drowning, also known as secondary drowning.

Spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians Dr. Juan Fitz says dry drowning is the result of water left in the lungs that causes swelling and blood oxygen levels begin to drop.

"That's where you have the cardiac arrest, because you're not carrying enough oxygen."

Fitz says the drowning occurs most commonly in small children and it is difficult to tell whether or not a child will be affected. 

Delagdo says his family is sharing their story to raise awareness about the condition. 

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

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