Photos || The man who cut out his own appendix



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During an expedition to the Antarctic, Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov became seriously ill. He needed an operation - and as the only doctor on the team, he realised he would have to do it himself.
As the polar winter rolled in, 27-year-old Leonid Rogozov started to feel tired, weak and nauseous. Later, a strong pain developed down the right side of his abdomen.
"Being a surgeon, he had no difficulty in diagnosing acute appendicitis," says his son, Vladislav. "It was a condition he'd operated on many times, and in the civilised world it's a routine operation. But unfortunately he didn't find himself in the civilised world - instead he was in the middle of a polar wasteland."
Rogozov was part of the sixth Soviet Antarctic expedition - a team of 12 had been sent to build a new base at the Schirmacher Oasis.
The Novolazarevskaya Station was up and running by the middle of February 1961, and with their mission complete the group settled down to see out the hostile winter months.


"He was so systematic he even instructed them what to do if he was losing consciousness - how to inject him with adrenalin and perform artificial ventilation," says Vladislav. "I don't think his preparation could have been better."
A general anaesthetic was out of the question. He was able to administer a local anaesthetic to his abdominal wall but once he had cut through, removing the appendix would have to be done without further pain relief, in order to keep his head as clear as possible.
"My poor assistants! At the last minute I looked over at them. They stood there in their surgical whites, whiter than white themselves," Rogozov wrote later. "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."


Rogozov had intended to use a mirror to help him operate but he found its inverted view too much of a hindrance so he ended up working by touch, without gloves.
As he reached the final and hardest part of the operation, he almost lost consciousness. He began to fear he would fail at the final hurdle.
"The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time... Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up," Rogozov wrote. "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."
But he didn't fail. After nearly two hours he had completed the operation, down to the final stitch.

read full story via bbc

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