Secondary drowning and dry drowning are insidious delayed forms of drowning that can occur hours or days after a child has left the water. Knowing the symptoms could save a child’s life and prevent the tragedy this family have endured.

Delayed drowning

Dad Frankie Delgado recently lost his 4-year-old son – also called Frankie – to this terrible condition and he’s sharing the family’s story in the hope that other parents will recognise the signs of secondary drowning and seek medical attention promptly.

Frankie Snr told People Magazine the family had been playing at the beach on Memorial Day Monday when a wave knocked little Frankie over. He thinks this is when Frankie Jnr might have inhaled the fatal mouthfuls of water into his lungs.

Unwell for days

The little boy was apparently unwell and unsettled – vomiting and having diarrhoea – in the days that followed their beach trip, but the family understandably had no idea that he was facing a life-threatening situation.

“Him throwing up, vomiting, there’s nothing uncommon about that,” the father says. “We didn’t think [Frankie] was gonna pass away or anything like that,” Frankie Snr said.

On Friday – five days after they all went swimming – Frankie Jnr said he was having shoulder pains and was extremely distressed.

“He just grabbed his chest and screamed. He took a deep breath and his eyes kind of rolled back, then he laid back down,” Frankie Snr said.

“I got up, I said, ‘Frankie, wake up!’ All of a sudden, he exhaled. I picked up his shirt and I couldn’t see his [chest] moving.”

It’s every parent’s nightmare.


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