This girl was saved by her mother’s instincts, days after inhaling pool water

Being a parent comes with so many moments of joy. Watching your kids as they learn how to talk, walk, and play is incredible, and seeing them smiling and happy really makes your heart swell with happiness. But being a parent also means you’re responsible for the lives and well-being of your children, and that’s a huge responsibility. It can be awful when your kid gets sick with fever or not feeling well, but having your kid’s life at stake is a parent’s worst nightmare. A health scare is one of the most stressful things any parent can go through in their life, no matter what age their child is. You have to do everything you can to give them the proper care they need, until they’re out of harm’s way.

Lacey and Pat Grace, who live in Florida, went through something of the sort when their daughter’s life was at risk. But what put their daughter, Elianna, in a life threatening condition was nothing out of the ordinary. She simply inhaled water from a pool, and seemed completely fine. But days later, an unexpected turn of events had Elianna’s parents extremely concerned for her life. Keep reading to find out the details of Elianna’s story, and how she luckily survived thanks to her mother’s intuition.

A terrifying incident

Lacey and Pat Grace live in Bradenton, Florida, with their two daughters – Elianna, who is four years old, and Lexi, two years old. This lovely couple lived an ordinary life raising their two girls, having fun together as a family. It’s not unusual for families to spend some time together in the pool during the spring and summer, especially in the sunny Florida days. But these parents never thought their fun time at the pool with their daughters would turn out the way it did. Inhaling water at the pool or in the ocean is also something that happens quite frequently, but this time it ended in a major health scare.

Fun day at the pool

The girls’ grandparents live right down the street, so the whole family was close and could spend their leisure time together. They also have a pool, which means they could all go swimming together whenever they wanted. It was just another fun day at the pool, but things took a bad turn when they were playing together. They were playing around with foamy pool noodles, when Lacey and Pat’s daughter, Elianna, inhaled some pool water. Elianna’s mother told, “She was just playing in the pool. We were all playing, it was a bunch of us. We were all just playing taking the noodle and blowing water in each other’s faces.”

Dangerous waters

That’s when the weird accident occurred. “She just happened to put her mouth on it the same time somebody else put their mouth on the other end,” Lacey told. This caused the water to shoot right down Elianna’s throat, and so she inhaled a lot of pool water straight to her lungs. “She immediately vomited, so we were thinking okay good, it came up,” Lacey continued. Her daughter seemed fine afterwards and even got back in the pool, so they thought it all ended there – but it wasn’t over yet.

Catching fever

Elianna seemed to do fine and was acting normal that day, and the next day as well. On the third day, she began to develop a fever. As kids get fevers all the time, Lacey didn’t think much of it. But after the fever went up and down for a few days, Lacey decided to contact her husband’s uncle, who’s a doctor. He recommended that they don’t take any chances, and bring Elianna to emergency care that afternoon.

An urgent situation

Listening to the doctor’s advise, Lacey brought her little girl to emergency care immediately. She hoped the doctor would say that she looks fine, that she just had something viral and she would recover in a few days. But after about 10 minutes in urgent care, things seemed to be taking a bad turn. “Her skin turned purple, her heart rate was through the roof, her oxygen level was dropping,” Lacey recalled. She needed to take action right away.

Rushing to the ER

Lacey was experiencing every parent’s worst nightmare. Many times, when things don’t seem to be that bad, you take your kid to the doctor’s just to make sure everything is fine – and it usually is. But something was very wrong with Elianna, and the doctor in urgent care told them they needed to get to the closest ER as soon as possible. “I was crying, she was crying, I called my husband crying,” Lacey said. It was a terrifying moment for the concerned parents.

Recalling an old story

There was something bothering Lacey about the whole thing. She recalled reading an article about a case that happened year earlier, and she had a pestering fear that what Lacey was going through had something to do with that very case. She recalled reading this article about a boy from Texas – four years old just as her daughter was – who had also accidentally inhaled water into his lungs while playing in the water.

Frankie’s case

The case she recalled reading about, was the case of a boy named Frankie. After inhaling some water into his lungs, he seemed mostly fine, except for showing some symptoms of a stomach bug. His parents didn’t think much of it, as he seemed to be getting better. But one Saturday morning he complained of shoulder pain, and woke up hours later and just stopped breathing. Unfortunately, Frankie didn’t survive the incident, due to an incredibly rare condition called secondary drowning.

Secondary drowning

Secondary drowning is a rare condition which may occur after inhaling water from the pool, lake, or ocean. The water builds up in the lungs, and eventually cause difficulty in breathing, as it prevents the lungs from being able to oxygenate blood. When this condition occurs, there might be symptoms – like extreme fatigue, difficulty in breathing, and turning purple – appearing hours and even a day after inhaling water. As many parents aren’t aware of this, they may not notice these signs, but thankfully – Lacey remembered seeing the article about it.

Getting an X-ray

Lacey brought Elianna the hospital to receive treatment, and told the doctors about the incident that happened in the pool a few days beforehand. The ER doctors performed a chest X-ray, which showed both inflammation, as well as infection that was probably caused by the pool’s chemicals. Lacey’s suspicion was right about Lacey’s case being similar to Frankie’s. Thankfully, doctors acted quickly and were able to treat Elianna’s her life threatening condition. But she wasn’t out of the woods just yet.

Good thinking

The doctors in the ER had told Lacey she did good by bringing her in to the hospital. “There was two doctors that told me that, you know, thank God you brought her in because when her oxygen level was dropping in the hospital, she looked, she was sleeping, she looked like an angel. She didn’t look like she was struggling whatsoever,” Lacey recalled. This means that had Lacey stayed home, her parents might not have noticed she was deteriorating, but think she’s simply resting.

Not out of the woods yet

Even though Lacey had brought Elianna to the hospital in time, her condition was still looking pretty bad. She was transferred by ambulance to a bigger hospital, where they could monitor her closely and make sure she recovers. She began receiving treatment in the ambulance, as her heart rate was high and her oxygen levels were low. In the hospital, the doctors could explore further what was wrong and treat it as soon as possible.


Elianna was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, chemical pneumonitis, and perihilar edema. This means she had fluids built up in her lungs. She had also inhaled chemicals from the water in the pool, which are harmful to the lungs. She was given two rounds of antibiotics, but the fever hadn’t gone down. She was breathing through tubes, and when doctors tried to remove them so she could breathe on her own, her oxygen levels kept dropping.

Financial trouble

Since the couple was now facing with heavy medical expenses to treat their daughter, they needed some help. Lacey’s co-workers had decided to start a fundraising campaign for Lacey on Go Fund Me, so people could help them deal with the financial part of treating their daughter. They managed to raise over $8,000, which helped covering those medical bills. But the most important thing was making sure their daughter would pull through and recover from her dangerous condition.

Posting her story to Facebook

The concerned mother took to Facebook to tell people about what happened to her daughter. “For now, we just pray that the antibiotic takes quickly and her lungs can find a way to get rid of the pool chemicals,” she wrote. “We don’t know how long the road will be but I thank my lucky stars that I read that article of the little boy…I would have never taken her to the urgent care without that and God only knows how this would have ended.”

Embraced by people

Lacey’s post got more attention than she thought it would, receiving over 40,000 reactions and over 10,000 shares. And soon, gifts, balloons, and get-well cards were flowing into the hospital for little Elianna. Lacey thanked everyone on Facebook, saying she’s thankful for the prayers and grateful for all the love her daughter received, to help her through this difficult time. “She is such a champ,” she wrote. “You have made her day so much brighter.”


Thankfully, Elianna managed to pull through her harrowing condition. She returned home, still receiving antibiotics and was having difficulty eating. While she was very tired and still not entirely well, she was now on her way to make a full recovery – something her parents were incredibly grateful for. Things could have ended much differently for this family, and it was Lacey’s instincts that ensured her daughter would receive the proper care she needed before it was too late.

A message to all parents

Lacey made sure to send out a message to other parents, telling them how important it is to take notice of your child’s behavior and follow their instincts if they believe something is wrong. “If you think something is off, I encourage you to get them checked out,” she said. “Best case, they’re gonna say, ‘Your kid’s okay, something that’ll pass.’ And, worst case, they’re gonna say, ‘You need to get to the nearest ER immediately.'”

Spreading the word

Last month, Lacey made a video along with the producers of the Today Show. She’s made it a point to spread her daughter’s story to as many people as possible, to raise more awareness to the condition. Reading about Frankie’s story is what saved her daughter’s life, so she thought it was important that other parents are aware of it. This way, they could keep an eye for strange symptoms and seek medical advice is necessary. While the condition is rare, it could potentially save lives.

Brave little girl

Although Lacey finds it important to raise awareness to secondary drowning, she doesn’t want parents to listen to her story and prevent their kids from being kids. She encourages parents to let their children play around in the pool and the ocean, and not let this story scare them. She said Elianna was ready to go back to swimming almost immediately after she came home. And if her daughter was brave enough to do it, she would have to be brave as well not to shelter her.