Heroes of DIY Surgery: Antarctica


Yessir — a genuine photo of a genuine self-appendectomy. Conducting the procedure with all the sang-froid of a man picking through an appetizer plate is one Leonid Rogozov.

While stationed at an Antarctic Russian research base in 1961, Rogozov noticed a nagging pain in his appendix, and as the only doctor on the base, he did what any unfeeling commie he-man would do – he cut it out.  Not that he had to go it alone.  The station’s meteorologist was standing by to hold things, or at least snap pictures.

Antarctica is apparently a hotspot for self-surgery, especially for doctors stranded on isolated research stations.  In 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielson, who had been troubled by a lump in her breast, dug in for a biopsy, puncturing herself 20 times in the process, using only locally grown ice for anesthetic.  Results were inconclusive, so a second biopsy was called for (self-administered, naturally).   Results were bad, but book residuals were good.  Oprah had her on to plug Ice Bound, and Susan Sarandon played her in the TV movie.  In 2002 her ex-husband sued her for $5 million for public claims he’d killed pets in front of their kids.

Lesson learned? Self-surgery can have unpredictable results.


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