Viagra used to save baby's life


Feb 16, 2007

Viagra has been used by doctors on Tyneside as a last resort to save the life of a premature baby.

Lewis Goodfellow was born at 24 weeks weighing just 1lb 8oz. One of his lungs had failed and not enough oxygen was able to get into his bloodstream.

Doctors at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary then tried Sildenafil, also known under the trade name of Viagra, and Lewis is now home with his parents.

The drug opened up tiny blood vessels in the baby's lungs.

Parents Jade Goodfellow and John Barclay, from Walker, Newcastle believe the drug - more usually associated with anti-impotence - saved his life.

At one point they were so concerned he would not survive that they began planning a funeral.

Ms Goodfellow said: "Doctors said he couldn't be given any more oxygen.

"They were just clutching at straws basically. They explained it was experimental and may not have any effect at all."

Alan Fenton, consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said: "The problem we see in premature babies with breathing difficulties is although we can blow oxygen into their lungs to help them, there isn't enough blood supply to various areas of the lungs to take the oxygen around the rest of the body.

"What Sildenafil does is open up the blood vessels so they can capture the oxygen and take it around the body."

Lewis was born in August 2006 and was finally allowed home in January, to the delight of his parents.

His mother said: "I don't think you could put into words how we feel.

"The doctors are worth their weight in gold. We admire each and every one of them for what they have done."