The tragic story of 4-year-old Frankie Delgado, who died of suspected “dry drowning” a week after going swimming, has saved the life of another boy who was suffering the same symptoms.
Garon Vega rushed his son Gio, 2, to the hospital in Colorado after reading the emotional story from Frankie’s parents about how they missed the signs of dry drowning – a rare condition that causes the lungs to fill gradually with fluid after water is inhaled.
“Their little boy saved our little boy’s life,” Vega told ABC 13. “If I had not told my wife that [Gio] swallowed the water and if she had not seen that article, I think we would’ve ended up dispelling it as a regular sickness.”
Doctors told Vega that if they hadn’t brought Gio to the hospital, he would not have made it through the night.
The news comes nearly a week after little Frankie died in a Houston hospital of dry drowning (also known as secondary drowning). His father, Frankie Delgado Jr., told PEOPLE that his son began vomiting in the days following a family swimming trip to the Texas City Dike.
“We’d never heard of [dry drowning]. He had too much water in his lungs and that’s what sent him to Heaven,” the 35-year-old told PEOPLE through tears.“This is real and this could happen to anyone. I lost [Frankie] and I’ll never see him again.”
After Frankie’s death, his parents went public in the hopes of warning other parents about the signs of dry drowning.
Dry drowning occurs after a child inhales water through the nose or mouth and the liquid gets into the lungs, Purva Grover from the Cleveland Children’s Clinic told USA Today. The lungs can then become irritated from the water and fill with fluid resulting in respiratory problems, brain damage or even death.
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Delgado told PEOPLE that he hoped little Frankie’s story could prove as a warning for parents of young children everywhere.
“Me and my wife, we’re at a loss for words. I don’t want anybody to go through what I’m going through,” he said.
Symptoms of dry drowning can include coughing, fever, vomiting, mood swings and struggling for breath. Symptoms could appear 24 to 48 hours after inhaling water.
The Delgado family created a GoFundMe page to help them raise money for funeral expenses. Frankie’s funeral will be held Saturday at Compean Funeral Home.