Rare Diseases

Colorado dad recognizes 'dry drowning' symptoms in son after reading Texas boy's story

A father in Colorado was able to recognized "dry drowning" symptoms in his son before it turned fatal after reading about a Texas toddler's recent death due to the rare condition, the family said. 

Garon Vega, of Fort Collins, said his 2-year-old son Gio went swimming last Wednesday and complained about head pain shortly after, KUSA reported. The boy reportedly swallowed a small amount of water. 

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"Little boy started complaining about head pain, he would say, 'mama head hurt, mama head hurt,'” Vega told the news station. 

The head pain developed into a fever that persisted throughout the day. Vega started to search the internet about his son's symptoms and came across Frankie Delgado's story, a Texas toddler whose death is suspected to be caused by "dry drowning," or secondary drowning. The rare condition happens when fluid fills a person's lungs, according to USA Today. It's more common among children and can occur with only a "few gasps" of water through the mouth or nostrils. 

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In Delgado's case, the 4-year-old boy swallowed some water while on a swimming trip during Memorial Day weekend, KTRK-TV reported. He showed symptoms of a stomach bug, but his family didn't think much of it. Nearly a week later, Delgado suddenly woke up and died moments later. Though an autopsy is still being conducted to determine the official cause of death, doctors and paramedics said Delgado most likely died of dry drowning. 

"When [the doctor] came in, she told us it's what's called 'dry drowning.' His lungs were full of fluid. There was nothing else they could do for him," Tara Delgado, the mother, told the news station. 

The Vegas immediately took their son to the emergency room where doctors discovered a "significant amount of fluid in his lungs." 

"If we had waited the night, he probably wouldn't have made it," Vega said. 

Vega credits Delgado's story for saving his son's life. He is following Delgado's family and telling his story to spread information about dry drowning.