The Doctor Who Removed His Own Appendix

the doctor who removed his own appendix

The Doctor who removed his own Appendix


If you think the movie “127 hours” in which the protagonist had to amputate his arm on his own to survive, was too vague or impossible to be performed, then here is a true story of a doctor who performed a self-surgery to remove his own appendix.


In the Year, 1921 Soviet Dr. Leonid Rogozov was posted in Russian Base located in the middle of Antarctica, Schirmacher Oasis, with a team of 12 men as all were part of  the sixth Soviet Antarctic Expedition with the intention of building a New Base. But by the end of april, Leonid started experiencing weakness, nausea, elevated temperature and pain in the right abdomen region. Immediately the doctor diagnosed it as Acute Appendicitis.


appendix image

Going back to Russia was not possible as it took more than 30 days to arrive at the base by ship and because of the snow storms, flying back was also impossible. Leonid knew he had to act fast as his appendix could burst. The situation got more complicated  as he was the only doctor on the expedition, so he decided to operate on himself. He knew he had to open his own abdomen to take his intestines out.

leonid rogozov

On 30th April, Leonid performed the self-surgery with assistance from meteorologist Alexander Artemyev, who helped him with the medical instruments, mechanical engineer Zinovy Teplinsky, who held a mirror and a lamp and the base Director as a security in case any one of the two helpers fainted. As the surgery progressed, the doctor started to feel very weak and dizzy, forcing him to take an interval of 5-10 seconds each 5-6 minutes. Leonid quoted “The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time. Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up.”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.”

The whole operation ended miraculously in less than 2 hours and within two weeks the doctor returned to his duty. Leonid Rogozov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for this Breathtaking Act.


But Leonid wasn’t the first person to cut his own appendix. Astoundingly, American Surgeon Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane did the same experiment in which he cut out his own appendix. Kane wanted to prove, that general anesthesia was unneeded for minor operations. He used himself as a test subject and operated on himself by removing his own appendix using an only local anesthetic. The contract between two cases was that the Leonid wasn’t in a comfortable room surrounded by a team of professional doctors ready to aid him, if something went wrong.

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