Mom Dies Saving Her Children by Breastfeeding Them for Days After Shipwreck

A woman from Venezuela has been praised for making the ultimate sacrifice to save her children, after the boat they were on was wrecked and drifted at sea for four days.

Mariely Chacón, 40, was on the vessel Thor with her 6-year-old son and her 2-year-old daughter, for a pleasure cruise from Higuerote to Tortuga Island, in the Venezuelan state of Miranda, according to Univision.

The cruise on September 3 turned to disaster for the nine people on board when a large wave split the hull of the vessel.

Chacón was left adrift with her children and their 25-year-old nanny, Verónica Martinez. As they floated under the blazing sun, Chacón decided that her children would be saved at whatever cost. She drank her own urine and tried to keep them as hydrated as possible by breastfeeding them.

When the exhausted children were finally found by the authorities four days later, they were clinging to the body of their mother in a small lifeboat.

Martinez was found in an empty icebox and is in hospital. The children were treated at a clinic in the capital Caracas, according to reports.

The five others who were on board are still missing, including Remis Clambor, Chacón's husband and the father of her children, some friends of the couple and a crew member.

A forensic medicine source quoted by the newspaper La República said the mother's vital organs had collapsed because of electrolyte depletion. This was caused by dehydration possibly accelerated by her breastfeeding.

Humberto Chacón, the woman's father, said the boat voyage was "simply a family trip to entertain the children," the publication added.

Mariely Chacón's funeral was held on September 11 in the Venezuelan capital and the service was broadcast on YouTube. Many posted on social media to pay tribute to her sacrifice.

The journalist Laura Castellanos tweeted, according to a translation: "The Virgin of Coromoto is watching Mariely Chacón Marroquin in Caracas," adding: "Rest in peace."

Another user wrote that a mother's love "can do everything."

One user who added the hashtag #MarielyChacon posted: "I did not have the privilege of meeting you," adding that "your last days of life speak a lot about what was in your beautiful heart, you are a being of light in eternity."

The Venezuelan authorities have admitted there is little chance of finding the missing people alive. However, Emily Dos Santos, twin sister of one of the five, released a video on September 9 saying she still believed they could be saved.

Tortuga island, in Venezuela.
Aerial view of Tortuga Island, in the south of the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela. A boat sailing there on September 3 was wrecked. JUAN BARRETO/Getty