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Doctors have saved a three-week-old baby girl who suffers from a rare respiratory syndrome by treating her with Viagra, Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed announced Thursday. The baby has been hospitalized since she was born with pulmonary hypertension.
Dr. Emanuel Gottfried, head of the neonatal intensive care unit, tried conventional treatments. He then received special permission to administer Viagra, which is used for erectile dysfunction, to expand the blood vessels in her lungs.
Viagra has been given abroad to a small number of newborns who suffer from pulmonary hypertension, but this was the first time an infant in Israel had been treated with it.
Soon after receiving the drug, the blood vessels in the baby's lungs expanded, improving the supply of oxygen throughout her body, the hospital said. She was now out of danger, her condition was good and she was on a diet of breast milk.
Gottfried said the mortality rate of newborns suffering from pulmonary hypertension was greater than 30 percent. It is caused by fetal distress due to a lack of oxygen. Many infants born with this condition emerge looking blue and have difficulty breathing.
Gottfried said blood vessels in the lungs and in the genitals were similar, and they both have receptors for the ingredient in Viagra (sildenafil citrate) that causes blood vessels to expand.