This is truly amazing, I’m sure similar things have and will happen, but this took place in 1961.
In 1961, Rogozov was stationed at a newly constructed Russian base in Antarctica. The 12 men inside were cut off from the outside world by the polar winter by March of that year. In April, the 27-year-old Rogozov began to feel ill, very ill. His symptoms were classic: he had acute appendicitis. “He knew that if he was to survive he had to undergo an operation — But he was in the frontier conditions of a newly founded Antarctic colony on the brink of the polar night. Transportation was impossible. Flying was out of the question, because of the snowstorms. And there was one further problem: he was the only physician on the base.”
He recorded in his journal that there was only one option, he had to operate on myself or he would die!
I did not sleep at all last night. It hurts like the devil! A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like a hundred jackals. 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.
Amazingly he operated mostly by feeling around, resting every 5 minuets to recompose himself before continuing. He recorded the whole thing in his journal.
I worked without gloves. It was hard to see. The mirror helps, but it also hinders — after all, it’s showing things backwards. I work mainly by touch. The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time — I try to work surely. Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up. Suddenly it flashed through my mind: there are more injuries here and I didn’t notice them … I grow weaker and weaker, my head starts to spin. Every 4-5 minutes I rest for 20-25 seconds. 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 and…
At the worst moment of removing the appendix I flagged: 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… And then I realised that, basically, I was already saved.
Remarkably, two weeks later he was back at work, and lived until 2000, when he died aged 66.
This story reminds me of House, the TV show, when he was trying to cut the cancer out of his own thigh...