A teenage girl from Argentina has gone into a coma while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, with doctors pointing to a life-threatening diabetic condition — even though her family says she has no history of diabetes.
Candela Saccone, 15, had been scheduled to return home from Punta Cana on June 19 after traveling there earlier in the week, but she reportedly got sick that morning.
Her mother, Natalia Knetch, told CNN’s Spanish-language news channel that she rushed the teen — who was displaying symptoms of dizziness, dehydration and vomiting — to a local medical center, where doctors diagnosed her with diabetic cetoacidosis.
The condition is described online by the Mayo Clinic as a “serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.” It normally develops “when your body can’t produce enough insulin,” the clinic says.
Candela was reportedly transported from Punta Cana to the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo — with Argentine officials claiming that the initial medical center “did not have sufficient equipment to treat her.” It’s unclear when she went into the coma, only that the teen was still unconscious and in critical condition on Tuesday, yet stable and showing signs of improvement, according to CNN.
The Argentine foreign ministry confirmed the details of Candela’s situation with the network on Monday. Her mother said Candela had suddenly gotten sick the night before their departure. She reportedly lost her appetite and was suffering from extreme discomfort in her throat — to the point where she couldn’t swallow, her mom said.
The Dominican Minister of Health visited with Candela’s family on Monday and told CNN that she was “under control in a high-quality hospital center.”
The teen’s hospitalization couldn’t have come at a worse time for the DR, which has seen a disturbing trend of tourist deaths and illnesses being reported recently. Health minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas insists the cases are unrelated.
“What do we have here? Tourists who arrive with preexisting conditions and die in this country as they do in all countries,” Cárdenas told CBS News on Monday through a translator.
The FBI is looking into whether any of the reported deaths are linked. Agents have been running toxicology tests on resort minibars to see if tainted alcohol is possibly to blame. They’ve honed in on at least three cases — all of which involved tourists dying at the popular Bahia Principe hotel chain.