SYDNEY (AFP) — Australian doctors revealed Wednesday that they drip-fed an Italian tourist a steady dose of vodka over three days to save his life after he poisoned himself.
The 24-year-old man was taken to a north Queensland hospital two months ago after he swallowed a large amount of a potentially-fatal substance found in antifreeze in an apparent suicide attempt.
Doctors at Mackay Base Hospital decided the best method of saving the unconscious man's life was to reverse the effect of the poison, ethylene glycol, by giving him pharmaceutical-grade alcohol.
Dr Pascal Gelperowicz said that once the hospital's alcohol supplies ran out doctors sent out for a case of vodka and the unusual drip was set up.
"We quickly used all the available vials of 100 percent alcohol and decided the next best way to get alcohol into the man's system was by feeding him spirits through a nasal-gastric tube," Gelperowicz said.
His colleague Dr Todd Fraser said the patient was given about three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit.
"Fortunately for him, he was in a medically induced coma for a good portion of that," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"By the time he woke up, I think his hangover would have well and truly gone."
Although unusual, the treatment was approved by hospital officials.
"The hospital's administrators were also very understanding when we explained our reasons for buying a case of vodka," Fraser said.
The patient regained full health and was discharged from hospital after 20 days.
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