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A Hero-Surgeon : Leonid Rogozov

“When you stay alone at the Polar Arctic station and you have a trouble with your health you can visit the doctor, but what if you are the doctor yourself and it takes place 1960 with no sat calls?

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Russian doctor conducts self-surgery

In 1959 Leonid Rogozov graduated from the Institute and was immediately accepted to the surgery clinical residency. However, his studies at the residency were broken off for some time due to Leonid’s trip to Antarctica in September, 1960 as a doctor of the 6th Soviet Antarctic expedition to Novolazarevskaya station.

During this expedition there happened an event that made a 27-year old surgeon world-famous.

In the 4th month of the wintering, in April, 29th, 1961, Leonid showed disturbing symptoms: weakness, nausea, fever and pain in a right iliac region. The following day his temperature got even higher. Being the only doctor in the expedition consisting of 13 people, Leonid diagnosed himself: acute appendicitis. There were no planes at any of the nearest stations, besides, adverse weather conditions would not allow to fly to Novolazarevskaya anyway. In order to save the sick member of a polar expedition there was needed an urgent operation on site. And the only way out was to operate on himself.

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Russian doctor conducts self-surgery

At night, on the 30th of April, 1961, the surgeon was being helped by a mechanical engineer and a meteorologist who were giving him the medical instruments and holding a small mirror at his belly. Lying half bent on the left side, the doctor made a local anesthesia with novocaine solution and made a 12cm incision in the right iliac region with a scalpel. Either watching in the mirror or by touch he removed an inflamed appendix and injected antibiotic in the abdominal cavity. In 30 or 40 minutes from the beginning of the operation there developed a faint and giddiness and the surgeon had to make pauses for some rest. Nevertheless, by midnight the operation lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes was over. In five days the temperature normalized, in two days more – the stitches were taken out.

In the St. Petersburg Museum of the Arctic and the Antarctic there is an exposure of surgical instruments that Leonid Rogozov applied for this uneasy operation.

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Russian doctor conducts self-surgery

An astronaut-pilot of the USSR, a Hero of the Soviet Union, German Titov wrote in his book “My blue planet”:

“In our country an exploit is life itself.

… We admire the Soviet doctor Boris Pastukhov, who injected himself with plague vaccine before applying it on the sick people: we envy the courage of the Soviet doctor Leonid Rogozov who made an appendix removal operation on himself in the hard conditions of the Antarctic expedition.

Sometimes I reflect upon this in solitude and ask myself if I could do the same and only one answer comes to my mind: “I would do my best…”

Any comments?

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Latest Comments
  1. Kavindi

    Wow great!
    It’s an unbelieveable story………….

  2. NISHIGANDHA RATHOD

    Really unbelievable work…
    hats off..to dis brave personality…

  3. Ravi K

    really vry gud info. and gud work guys……… n he is a real hero

  4. jeetendra

    geeeeeenious so bravvy
    but it is not correct
    for all

  5. K. Surendran

    It is really wonderfull and please carry on with such informative mails; Thanking you…..

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