Leonid Rozogov: The Doctor Who Successfully Cut Off His Own Appendix

While on a journey to the Antarctic, Leonid Rozogov, a Russian doctor fell seriously ill and soon he understood that he needs an operation. He was the only doctor on his team so he had to gather his guts and do this painful operation on himself.

“Being a surgeon, he had no difficulty in diagnosing acute appendicitis,” says Vladislav, son of Rozogov. “It was a condition he’d operated on many times, and in the civilized world, it’s a routine operation. But unfortunately, he didn’t find himself in the civilized world,”

Rozogov and his team of 12 men were up for a mission building a base at the Schirmacher Oasis. His life was in grave danger by the end of the April but he found himself in the middle of the polar wasteland, where there was no hope of getting any medical help or assistance.

The voyage already took 36 days to the site and the team couldn’t afford to return for a way back for another year. Rozogov soon understood that his appendix will burst if they don’t do anything by now. He was confronted with a very difficult situation of life and death.

“I did not sleep at all last night. It hurts like the devil! A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like 100 jackals,” Rozogov wrote in his diary.

The symptoms were getting worse. A strong and unbearable pain was growing instantaneously own the right side of his abdomen. He wrote in his diary, “Still no obvious symptoms that perforation is imminent, but an oppressive feeling of foreboding hangs over me… This is it… I have to think through the only possible way out – to operate on myself… It’s almost impossible… but I can’t just fold my arms and give up.”

He made a detailed plan for his assistances unfolding how they would carry out the operation. Rozogov wrote, “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 Novocain and gave myself the first injection, somehow I automatically switched into operating mode, and from that point on I didn’t notice anything else.”

Later the complete operation was found detailed in his diary, “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, and my head starts to spin. Every four to five minutes I rest for 20 – 25 seconds”

He was feeling very weak. A mirror was used in the operation so that he can see the affected area and everything at it but the inverted view was extremely impediment. So he took off his gloves and performed the rest of the operation by touching everything with his naked hand.

“Finally here it is,” Rozogov wrote. “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.”

Most amazingly, he didn’t fail! He successfully performed his operation with the final stitch, for over two hours. And before taking rest, he gave all the instructions to the assistance of how to clean the surgical instruments. And after the room was totally clean, he took some antibiotics and sleeping pills and took rest.

“Most importantly he was relieved because he had another chance to live,” Vladislav said. This is one of the most remarkable events in the history of medicines which will inspire medical students and interns to never lose faith in one’s ability and skills even if you are going through the most tensed and life-threatening crises in the future.

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