updated 10/10/2007 8:41:16 AM ET 2007-10-10T12:41:16

Australian doctors said they plugged a poisoned Italian tourist into a vodka drip after running out of the medicinal alcohol they would normally have used to save his life.

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The 24-year-old Italian, who was not further identified, was diagnosed as having ingested a large quantity of ethylene glycol, a common ingredient in antifreeze that can cause renal failure.

Pure alcohol is often given in treating such cases because it can inhibit the toxic effects of ethylene glycol.

Dr. Pascal Gelperowicz at Mackay Base Hospital where the man was taken for treatment said he was given pharmaceutical-grade alcohol on arrival, but that the hospital's supplies soon ran out.

"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 nasogastric tube," Gelperowicz said in a statement.

"The patient was drip-fed about three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit," he said. "The hospital's administrators were also very understanding when we explained our reasons for buying a case of vodka."

The patient made a successful recovery. The incident occurred about two months ago, though the hospital just released information on the case.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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