Mom Dies at Sea After Drinking Own Urine to Breastfeed and Save Her Children

Photo: (Photo : PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP via Getty Images)

A mother drank her urine to prevent dehydration so she could breastfeed and save her two young children after their boat capsized and drifted in open water for four days.

Mariely Chacon, 40, and her family were off to the Caribbean Island of La Tortuga for a pleasure trip when a large wave hit and damaged the hull of their boat, splitting it in two. Six other people were also aboard, including Chacon's husband, Remis David Camblor, and their nanny, Veronica Martinez.

Rescuers said they found the mother with her kids, Jose David and Maria Beatriz, still clinging to her. They also found the nanny alive on a lifeboat. The survivors have been getting treatments for dehydration and first-degree burns. The rest of the passengers, however, have not yet been rescued as of press time.

A spokesperson for the Instituto Nacional de Los Espacios Acuáticos (INEA) said that Chacon tried to keep her children alive by drinking her urine to breastfeed her kids. Unfortunately, she died three or four hours before the rescuers found the family.

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Tributes to Chacon Poured

Officials have confirmed the cause of Chacon's death as organ failure due to dehydration. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, her funeral in Caracas, Venezuela, where the family is based, was streamed on YouTube. The nation paid its tribute to the mother who made the sacrifice for her children.

Journalist Laura Castellanos said that although she didn't meet Chacon, her final days of life have been a testament to her "beautiful heart" as she focused on saving her kids.

Chacon's father, Humberto, said that the family decided to go on a trip to entertain their children who have been stuck at home. Venezuela has been under a series of flexible and alternate lockdowns since March 2021, and tourism has partially opened for those with negative COVID-19 tests.

The search remains for the rest of the passengers, but rescuers are no longer hopeful that they will recover the bodies.

Drinking Urine for Survival

A healthy person's urine is 95 percent water, so drinking urine for survival has been depicted in various movies or TV shows. However, the remaining five percent of the urine's content includes impurities that the body normally needs to excrete.

More than 3,000 compounds in a urine specimen are formed based on what the person has taken in, including medications and other environmental contaminants. While urine may be sterile and clean, it's still unsafe to drink due to these compounds. In a dehydrated person, these compounds become highly concentrated.

In extreme survival situations, such as Chacon's case, drinking urine might help for an extra day or two but drinking more urine for a third or fourth time can be fatal. Some experts believe that urine may worsen the situation because all the toxins and pollutants the body has been trying to remove are too concentrated to rehydrate the body.

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