In 1961, Leonid Rogozov was the only medical doctor at the Soviet Antarctic Station. He was well qualified to take care of everyone else, but it was Rogozov himself who came down with appendicitis. He recognized the symptoms, but was weakening from his condition, and concerned about the decision he would have to make. The pain became so bad that on April 30, he set up the operating room, briefed his terrified assistants, applied local anesthetic, and removed his own appendix. In his own words:
“My poor assistants! At the last minute I looked over at them. They stood there in their surgical whites, whiter than white themselves. I was scared too. But when I picked up the needle with the novocaine and gave myself the first injection, somehow I automatically switched into operating mode, and from that point on I didn’t notice anything else.
“The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time… Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up… I grow weaker and weaker, my head starts to spin. Every four to five minutes I rest for 20 – 25 seconds.
“Finally here it is, the cursed appendage! With horror I notice the dark stain at its base. That means just a day longer and it would have burst… My heart seized up and noticeably slowed, my hands felt like rubber. Well, I thought, it’s going to end badly and all that was left was removing the appendix.”
Rogozov recovered from the self-surgery and lived until 2000. Read excerpts from his diary and the report he later wrote on the surgery at Flashbak. -via Digg