FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A Colorado father is thanking a Texas family for sharing the story of their tragedy and therefore potentially saving the life of his son.
Garon Vega's 2-year-old son Gio almost died of dry drowning this week. But, the family was able to save him because they had seen the story of 4-year-old Frankie Delgado whose parents said he recently passed away after swimming in Texas.
The Delgados had said that Frankie died of a rare phenomenon called dry drowning.
Vega said Gio was playing on the steps of a pool Wednesday when he swallowed some water.
Vega didn't think anything of it at the time. But, as the day went on the 2-year-old was getting sicker and sicker.
“Little boy started complaining about head pain, he would say mama head hurt, mama head hurt,” Vega said.
When Gio's fever wasn't going away, his mom Googled his symptoms.
“I came across an article about a 4-year-old little boy who went swimming and he passed away from something called secondary drowning,” he said.
At the ER, doctors figured out what was wrong.
“The doctor said basically it is in fact fluid in his lungs, he has a significant amount of fluid in his lungs was secondary drowning,” Vega said.
“Dry drowning is a common name for a condition where fluid floods the lungs, not because fluid is absorbed through the mouth of the breathing pipe, but because it leaks into the lung from the blood supply itself,” said Doctor Ivor Douglas, a Chief of Pulmonary Sciences and Clinical Care Medicine at Denver Health. “Just a little bit of fluid in the breathing pipe itself can set this process off.”
Dr. Douglas said dry drowning in children is extremely rare.
“This is common in the swimming pool. Kids choke or cough or splatter and the airways will be cleared, but if that persists to any level of breathing discomfort that should warrant attention,” he said.
Dr. Douglas said fever in these situations is less common at early stages of trouble.
He said to look out for difficult or noisy breathing, change in the color of lips or fingers, and a change in the child's awareness and responsiveness. It’s important parents or supervising adults have basic first aid knowledge, including how to clear the airway of kids of different ages.
“If we had waited the night, he probably wouldn't have made it,” Vega said.
The story of little Frankie from Texas saved Gio's life, he believes. Now Vegas says he’s talking about it to warn other parents.
“I had no idea that you could drown without being submerged in the water,” Vega said. “I had no idea. None of us did until now. I'm telling everybody else too it can happen. It can happen. Knowing is very powerful. It can be life-saving.”
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