Ok, to be fair, some of these people might not have thought it was a good idea, but they did feel as if they didn’t have another choice in the moment.
That said, I personally hope I am never either person in this scenario, because I don’t even want a trained doctor operating on me if I can help it.
So, gird your loins and prepare your mind for these 8 stories about people who operated on themselves.
8. Leonid Rogozov
Rogozov was a trained surgeon, and when he found himself with an infected appendix while on a 12-person expedition in the Antarctic (it was 1961), he realized that the only option he had was to save his own life before it burst.
He wrote about the decision in his journal, proof that he didn’t take it lightly.
“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 to operate on myself … It’s almost impossible … but I can’t just fold my arms and give up.
Basically, he knew it might not work, but what choice did he have?
Rogozov enlisted the help of others on the trip as assistants, used what I can only assume was a healthy dose of local anesthetic, and started cutting.
He had to stop every few minutes to avoid passing out, but after two hours, the organ was out and he even survived to attend his hero’s welcome back home.
7. Ines Ramirez Perez
In 2000, Ines Ramirez Perez found herself in a situation that many women have been in before – her baby was coming and she had no way of getting to the nearest clinic, 50 miles away, before that happened.
Unlike many of those other women, Perez knew that she needed a Cesarean section.
She gave herself one – successfully – and sent her older son for help afterward.
6. Gouverneur Morris
In New York in the late 1770s, nothing made you more of a man about town than being a Founding Father who contributed to the authoring of the U.S. Constitution – and that described Gouverneur Morris to a T.
At home in 1816, he became concerned about his difficulty urinating and chose to shove a slender piece of whale bone into his urethra in an attempt to try to clear the blockage.
It might have solved the initial problem, but the ensuing infection finished him off shortly afterward.
5. Amanda Feilding
In the 1970s, there was a movement that sought to access deeper parts of a person’s consciousness – a movement that UK native Amanda Feilding embraced with both arms.
Before deciding that a LSD habit was the way to go she experimented with trepanation, which involves drilling a hole into the skill in order to “increase blood circulation.”
There is no medical evidence this is beneficial in any way (in fact, many lobotomy patients would argue otherwise, if they still could), but Feilding didn’t care – she recorded herself drilling a hole in her own forehead.
In 2018 she said told Wired that she had no regrets, even undergoing the procedure a second time (with someone else drilling this time).
4. Aron Ralston
If you’ve seen the film 127 Hours, this case is probably one of the first that comes to mind.
In 2003, 27-year-old Aron Ralston went out to explore an Utah canyon and found himself trapped between a boulder and the canyon wall. His right arm was pinned, and without cell access and with very little food or water, he eventually decided the only chance he had to survive was to cut off his trapped arm himself.
He had to break his own bones to complete the job (I could barely keep my eyes open during the movie).
Ralston spoke to The Guardian about his experience in 2010.
“The detachment had already happened in my mind. It’s rubbish, it’s going to kill you, get rid of it Aron. It’s an ‘it.’ It’s not longer my arm. As I picked up the knife, I was very cool and collected.”
After it was done, Ralston made a tourniquet and climbed 65 feet out of the canyon.
3. Peter Freuchen
Another Arctic explorer who found himself in an extreme situation, Peter Freuchen ended up snowblind and stranded in a frozen tundra in 1926. He dug a trench and covered it with his sled for some shelter, but suffered frostbite on his left foot before making it back to camp.
As gangrene began to set in, Freuchen realized he had no choice but to amputate his own toes with nothing but a nail-puller and a hammer.
His entire foot ended up amputated upon his return to society.
2. Kurtis Kaser
In 2019, 63-year-old Kurtis Kaser had an accident on his Pender, Nebraska farm. His leg got caught in a grain auger, and as the machinery threatened to consume his entire leg, Kaser thought fast.
He used a pocket knife (!!) to amputate was remained of his leg and then crawled on his elbows for hundreds of feet to get to a phone.
His leg was amputated between the knee and ankle at the hospital, and Kaser used his brief fame to encourage people to keep a level head in extreme situations.
1. Mohab Foad
Unlike many of the people on this list, Ohio surgeon Mohab Foad operated on his own hand just because he wondered whether or not he could.
In August of 2021, Foad arrived for surgery to repair a torn ligament, but after being numbed up, decided he could just do it himself.
He talked to The Cincinnati Enquirer about what he was thinking in the moment.
“It really was a lot like it wasn’t my thumb, it was anybody else’s.”
He asked for a scalpel and operated on his own hand, trading steps with a colleague to finish up.
So, I guess it all worked out in the end.
Yeah, I’m not sure I was prepared to tell any of these even though I totally thought that I was!
Would you be able to operate on yourself if it was life or death? Tell us why or why not down in the comments!