Texas boy dies of ‘secondary drowning’ a week after swimming

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Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning Explained

A four-year-old in Houston, Texas, died of "secondary drowning" almost a week after a family swimming trip, according to KHOU.

Francisco Delgado Jr. told KTRK his family took a swim at the Texas City Dike with his son Francisco Delgado III (Frankie), 4, over Memorial Day weekend. Almost a week later, Frankie complained of shoulder pain and woke up a few hours later.

>> What parents need to know about 'dry' and 'secondary' drowning

“Out of nowhere, he just woke up. He said ahhh,” Delgado told KTRK. “He took his last breath and I didn't know what to do no more.”

Frankie passed away at East Houston Regional Hospital.

Doctors told the family Frankie had fluid in his lungs and around his heart, a rare occurrence that affects mainly young children after they inhale water.

According to online guides, secondary drowning symptoms include feeling extremely tired, having trouble breathing, chest pain and coughing. Parents who are afraid their child may be exhibiting symptoms of secondary drowning should get them a chest X-ray and an examination at a hospital.

To prevent secondary drowning or dry drowning (when fluid causes the vocal cords to spasm and close), doctors recommend these water safety tips:

  • Watch your children closely around water
  • Only let them swim in areas with lifeguards
  • Never let your children swim alone
  • Enroll them in water safety classes, if possible
  • Fence off any pools you have at home

Kay Leaming-Van Zandt, an emergency medicine physician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, warned KTRK that children can drown in “just inches of water.”

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“It only takes a split second,” she said. “Drowning is silent. It’s not similar to what you see in the movies where there is a lot of commotion.”

The Delgado family has set up a GoFundMe to handle the unexpected funeral expenses. As of this writing they have raised $12,809 of their $20,000 goal.