What is the most badass thing anyone has ever done?
Answer by Louise Barr:
I think this Soviet doctor’s self-appendectomy qualifies! Leonid Rogozov, 27, was part of a 12 person expedition to Antarctica in 1961 and he was the only doctor. In March, the winter darkness set in on the polar wasteland, with constant storms and howling winds making it impossible for planes to fly; the ship that had delivered the expedition would not return for a year. In April, Rogozov realized he had the unmistakable signs of acute appendicitis and knew he would die if the appendix burst. He felt sure it would burst, and wrote in his journal that he couldn’t just fold his arms and die, so he knew he would have to take out his appendix himself.
He was very ill and had a high fever, but he knew he had to act quickly. So he had 2 expedition members act as his assistants, handing him tools, positioning the light and holding a mirror for him so that he could see what he was doing. The station director stood by to step in in case one of the assistants felt faint, which was a real possibility, as they looked whiter than their white surgical scrubs. Other than an injection of novocaine into his stomach, which dulled only the cut through his skin and fat, he had nothing for the pain so that he could keep a clear head.
He made the first cut, then, in excruciating pain, he cut through his peritoneum. Unfortunately, the mirror made things more difficult as he was seeing everything in reverse, causing him to make a costly mistake.
In an entry in his journal, “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.” He decided the mirror was too dangerous, so he did the rest of the operation by touch.
"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."
Despite his fear that he would pass out, he pressed on, and finished putting in the last stitch two hours after making the first cut into his own abdomen. He didn’t stop until his assistants followed his instructions on how to wash and put away the instruments and made the room tidy again. Only then would he take some antibiotics and sleeping pills, and finally rest.
Here’s a photo of the operation:
I think this guy is absolutely amazing and an inspiration to never give up!