Heart doc who operated on HIMSELF – and 5 other cases of incredible self-surgery

WHEN you go into surgery, you trust that your surgeon has done the procedure before.

But how would you feel to know that they'd done it on…themselves?

Over the years, people have performed surgery on themselves. Sometimes it's out of curiosity and others it's because auto-surgery is the only available option.

It goes without saying of course, that it's definitely better to leave surgery to the professions and not to try this at home yourself.

Here are a few examples of times where someone's been both patient and surgeon:

1. DIY C-section

If there's one thing harder than giving birth, it has to be performing your own c-section.

But that's what Ramírez Pérez did back in 2000.

The mum-of-seven was alone in her cabin in rural Mexico when she went into labour. After 12 hours of continual pain and little action, she decided to take things into her own hands.

She swigged down three shots of booze and then cut away with a 15cm knife – sawing through skin, fat and muscle.

After an hour, she reached her uterus and pulled out a healthy baby boy.

She just about managed to cut the umbilical cord before passing out.

After being found by her 6-year-old son covered in blood, she was later rushed to hospital where she and her baby made a full recovery.

2. The surgeon who cut out his own appendix

27-year-old Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov was the only doctor on an expedition to the Arctic. He became seriously ill during an expedition to the Arctic and realised that he'd had to perform surgery on himself.

He knew that he'd developed acute appendicitis when he started to feel weak, sick and had a strong pain down the right side of his belly.

In the middle of the polar wasteland, he couldn't wait for help (it would have taken 36 days to get back to Russia by boat) and he had no idea if he would even survive the surgery.

There was a risk that his appendix would burst on opening up his stomach and that'd kill him.

So he decided to operate on himself – removing his intestines to do so.

Two assistants handed him instruments, positioned a lamp and held up a mirror for him to see what he was doing. He had no anaesthetic and almost lost consciousness at the final and hardest part of the op.

Eventually, he removed his appendix which he said in a diary was a day away from bursting.

The op took him two hours to complete and in just two weeks, he was back to his normal duties.

3. Egg-sized hernia repair

Dr Evan O'Neill Kane wanted to prove that minor operations didn't need a general anaesthetic.

He did that by first removing his own appendix using local anaesthetic and then later, aged 70, repairing his own inguinal hernia.

BEcause of how close it was to the femoral artery, the hernia op was particularly tricky.

He managed to perform it in just under two hours.

Apparently, he was so chill during the op that he spent half of it joking about how close he was to important blood vessels.

4. Amputation of a right arm

In 1998, 35-year-old lobster fisherman Douglas Goodale got his sleeve tangled in his boat's winch.

Unable to get free, he was soon hanging over the side fo the boat and had to use his good arm to hoist himself back into the boat.

Because of the way his right arm was twisted, however, had had to dislocate his shoulder…and then decided to saw the whole arm off.

Thanks to the cold sea water and the twisting, the wound didn't bleed too much and Goodale managed to get his boat back to the harbour to seek medical help.

Unbelievably, that incident hasn't stopped him from fishing. He still fishes for lobsters and has totally made over his boat.

5. Removing a kidney stone

In 1824, a 27-year-old military surgeon had lived with kidney stones for years and had had five operations to remove them.

Some of the operations had left long-lasting complications so M. Clever Maldigny decided to remove the sixth stone himself.

Using a mirror, he opened himself up, located the neck of the bladder and removed the tone.

The self-surgery was a success and he claimed that three weeks later, he was as happy as if he'd never had a problem in the first place.

When a seventh stone appeared a few years later, he decided to opt for new surgery…carried out by someone else.

6. Heart surgery

Werner Theodor Otto Forssmann was a medical student in Germany in the 1920s when a professor asked whether it was possible to reach the heart through the veins or arteries without the need for traumatic surgery.

The only way to find out was to try it.

Telling his prof that he wanted to give it a try, he was met with some doubt over patient safety.

Undeterred, Forssmann decided to carry out the procedure on himself instead – even after a nurse put herself forward as a volunteer.

He stuck a catheter 30cm up his arm and the pair watched its journey from arm to heart.

When a colleague spotted what was happening, he tried to pull the catheter out of his arm, but Forssman eventually reached his goal and the procedure was a success.

Despite proving that one could reach the heart through the veins or arteries without the need for massive surgery, Forssmann was dismissed from his studies and had to go into urology instead of cardio.

17-years later, he won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his part in the invention of cardiac catheterization.

So…is self-surgery a good thing?

"When people take these desperate measures it usually isn’t because there is a shortage of qualified surgeons to do the job," says Adam Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at Lancaster University.

He tells The Conversation: "Most cases of self-surgery are performed in life-or-death situations. For instance, people whose limbs become trapped and who are unable to contact anyone.

"Limbs are usually straightforward to amputate because they are mostly soft tissues: muscles, nerves and connective tissues surrounding the hard bone."

The main risks he says are damaging vital organs, severing blood vessels and infection.



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"While thoughts of having to perform self-surgery brings dread and fear to the average human, it is not too different to undergoing surgery in the early 1800s where anaesthetics and aseptic techniques were yet to exist.

"These surgeries had to be very quick and were often very bloody."

As we said at the beginning, it's probably not even worth contemplating.

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