What the? Soviet Surgeon removes his own Appendix!

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...

This is truly amazing, I’m sure similar things have and will happen, but this took place in 1961, in the middle of a blizzard!

1961, Soviet surgeon removes his own Appendix
1961, Soviet surgeon removes his own Appendix

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.”

1961, Soviet surgeon removes his own Appendix
1961, Soviet surgeon removes his own Appendix

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.

Source: Antarctica, 1961: A Soviet Surgeon Has to Remove His Own Appendix


CW Staff
CW Staff

In the late 80s I started investigating UFOs and crop circles and joined the CCCS (Centre for Crop Circle Studies) and a local group researching strange sightings and reports along the south coast of Dorset (UK). In the early ’90s I started my own research group called SPS (Strange Phenomena Studies), this was renamed in 2004 to Cryptoworld.

Articles: 760


  1. Wow. That took EXTREME courage. I doubt that even one in a million (literally) would be able to do this. I know I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t even be able to cut off one of my appendages in order to escape a rock slide as the guy did in the movie (AND in real life!) I’m a total wimp and probably would consider death less traumatic than doing things like this. (And, I doubt that I’m alone in feeling like this. It takes a VERY brave person to perform these acts.)

    • One in a million would mean there are about 7,000 people around who would do this. One in a billion seems more like it.

  2. BTW, does anyone know how he finally died? He was still quite young…at least measured by modern times…according to this article. I’m sure it had nothing to do with his surgery, but I’m always curious as to what happens to people I read about.

  3. Hi, thanks for you comments – I think @Hank_Scorpio is right, he died as a result of cancer in 2000.

    @Hank, I agree, though Rambo was hard, mind you – what about Chuck Norris!?

  4. Wow. I love this. I have removed the metal wires running throughout and around my gums holding my mouth shut. I have removed an actual cyst, by cutting underneath my leg thigh, and removing it, only a stitch did the closing. I would of love to have seen the full surgery of this courageous man.

    • aww man, you totally beat me to it… cept, I was gonna with “Chuck norris ain’t got shit on soviets”

  5. We better learn to do this ourselves. After Obamacare kicks in more at home, do-it-yourself-surgeries will be necessary since you wont be able to find a doctor.

    • *Facepalm* Only a dumb hick, such as yourself, would diss the awesomeness of public health care. I live in Canada and it is, to us, a godsend of modern politics … for HIS sake … evolve out of the dark ages of the Tea Party and enlighten yourself before you even think you have a 1st amendment right to speak for that right is a privilege with great power … and also grave responsibility!!
      With Graveness,
      A Fellow Christian

      • Only a stupid canadian would think that the Boston tea party occured during the dark ages and canadian medcare is comparable to Americas.

        • Firstly, it was a figure of speech, secondly the only reason that Canada’s health care is a bit worse than America’s IS BECAUSE IT’S FREE. Canada: Oh you broke you leg? No problem I’ll pay the doctor, all you have to pay for is the cast. America: You broke your leg? Give me $2000.

    • Talk about brave! Jason is the bravest.

      If I had no idea what I was talking about I’d be afraid to flaunt it in front of everybody. But not Jason! Jason boldly goes where smart people fear to tread.

  6. he had to operate on myself or he would die? that is a quote from the beginning of the article

  7. It does not say (or I missed it) – did he at least have local anaesthetic? Working on yourself numbed up is bad enough, but I tried cutting off a wart one time and damn near passed out from the pain.

  8. h-o-l-y s-h-i-t! courage and GUTS. it was all in the head. very strong will to live and he did.

  9. Who took the picture? EIther he decided he REALLY wanted a picture of him operating on himself (priorities/in which case the title should include that: Dude operates on himself AND takes a picture of it) or the douche who took the picture decided: “Meh, nothing I can do here. I’ll just take pictures.”

  10. I removed a wart from the inside of my nose with a pocket knife, twice. When it grew back again I had surgery – it hasn’t grown back since.

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