UK
11/11/2013 06:14 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Viagra To Help Cure Giant, Life-Threatening Tumour On Neck Of Boy, 10

A ten-year-old boy whose life has been blighted by a giant tumour on his neck could be cured after being prescribed with Viagra.

The mass was even threatening Jose Serrano's life by putting pressure on his windpipe.

Surgeons are unable to operate on the cystic growth - known as lymphangioma - until it is reduced in size.

viagra tumour

Jose Serrano has had the tumour since birth

And Viagra - most commonly used to treat male impotence - has been found to be effective in shrinking growths in children.

Jose, from the city of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, is now taking the medicine in the hope he will be able to live a normal life.

He said: "If the doctors can cure me I will be so happy. I would be thrilled. I would be healthy and I'd be able to do anything I want. I could run fast, play on the swings and rings - anything I want."

The growth is rough and scaly and often forms painful cysts. It extends across Jose's shoulder and restricts his movement.

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The tumour is restricting the little boy's movement and is pressing on his windpipe

He can't swim because the water causes him pain and he gets tired easily when playing football and riding his bike.

Now some of the cysts are invading his lungs and approaching his windpipe. There are also fears it could one day spread to his eyes and effect his vision.

"It's been difficult," his mother Cindy explained. "People stare at him. Some of them have these terrible, morbid looks on their faces.

"We've tried to let Jose lead as normal a life as possible. We let him do everything the other children do, unless it's unsafe for him or will be too difficult.

tumour viagra

It is hoped Viagra will help shrink the growth, enabling surgeons to remove it completely

"But sometimes he gets so sad because he is different from other kids. Until now there was simply to money to treat him."

Another stumbling block for Jose's family has been the cost. The treatment and surgery to remove the growth will cost a staggering £125,000.

And then there's the cost of the medication - £1,250 per week.

Luckily, the family have been given funding to cover the costs - via fundraisers, the church and hospital where he will be treated. Drug makers Pfizer have agreed to cover the cost of the Viagra.

"That is unbelievable amount of money for us," Cindy said. "More money than we'd see in a lifetime.

"Words can't express how grateful we are to the people who have helped us. It's surreal. It feels like a dream come true."

Jose's case was brought to the attention of medical experts after he was spotted by missionaries from the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

They put his family in touch with specialists at the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital.

tumour viagra

The family are grateful for the funding they have received for Jose's treatment

It was only last year Cindy and her husband Jose Ramirez Sr even found out what was causing the growth their son has had since he was a baby.

"When Jose was born with the growth we were terrified for him," Cindy recalled. "The doctors told me it was very likely the baby wouldn't even survive the night.

"I felt bad because we didn't have the financial resources to get him the help he needed."

Jose Sr added: "The little ball he had as a baby has grown and now it's spreading to the sides. It seems to be filling up more.

"The first year was difficult because we didn't know what could happen and if we could hurt him. The lump was as big as his head, so it was difficult to hold him.

"Because they said he wouldn't survive, I get a sense of pride to still have him."

The beaming father added: "Now I have much more hope. I just want to be able to play and have fun."

Cindy, who has three other children, said: "Now we can let ourselves dream about Jose's future. Who knows, maybe one day he can go to university and make a great life for himself.

"Our biggest fear was that the condition would be incurable and his life would still be at risk.

"And, of course, we're nervous about the surgery. But we've been told the chances are good.

"He's excited to be able to wear collared shirts like his uncles. There is a girl he has a crush on and he's hoping she will think he looks handsome.

"He's very brave. He's been through so much yet he always keeps a smile on his face.

Jose's story features in episode one of new series Body Bizarre on TLC UK at10 pm on Monday November 11th.