Hero surgeon

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					Leonid Rrorzov a hero surgeon

In April, 29th, 1961 a doctor of the 6th Soviet Antarctic expedition Leonid Rogozov
aged 27 felt pain in a right lower belly and fever. The next day brought only
exasperation. Having no chance to call a plane and being the only doctor at the station
“Novolazarevskaya”, at night, in April, 30th the surgeon made an appendix removal
operation on himself using local anesthesia. He was assisted by an engineer and the
station’s meteorologist.

In 1959 Leonid Rogozov graduated from the Institute and was immediately accepted
to the surgery clinical residency. However, his studies at the residency were broken
off for some time due to Leonid’s trip to Antarctica in September, 1960 as a doctor of
the 6th Soviet Antarctic expedition to Novolazarevskaya station.

During this expedition there happened an event that made a 27-year old surgeon
In the 4th month of the wintering, in April, 29th, 1961, Leonid showed disturbing
symptoms: weakness, nausea, fever and pain in a right iliac region. The following day
his temperature got even higher. Being the only doctor in the expedition consisting of
13 people, Leonid diagnosed himself: acute appendicitis. There were no planes at any
of the nearest stations, besides, adverse weather conditions would not allow to fly to
Novolazarevskaya anyway. In order to save the sick member of a polar expedition
there was needed an urgent operation on site. And the only way out was to operate on

At night, on the 30th of April, 1961, the surgeon was being helped by a mechanical
engineer and a meteorologist who were giving him the medical instruments and
holding a small mirror at his belly. Lying half bent on the left side, the doctor made a
local anesthesia with novocaine solution and made a 12cm incision in the right iliac
region with a scalpel. Either watching in the mirror or by touch he removed an
inflamed appendix and injected antibiotic in the abdominal cavity. In 30 or 40 minutes
from the beginning of the operation there developed a faint and giddiness and the
surgeon had to make pauses for some rest. Nevertheless, by midnight the operation
lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes was over. In five days the temperature normalized, in
two days more – the stitches were taken out.

In the St. Petersburg Museum of the Arctic and the Antarctic there is an exposure of
surgical instruments that Leonid Rogozov applied for this uneasy operation.

An astronaut-pilot of the USSR, a Hero of the Soviet Union, German Titov wrote in
his book “My blue planet”:

“In our country an exploit is life itself.

… We admire the Soviet doctor Boris Pastukhov, who injected himself with plague
vaccine before applying it on the sick people: we envy the courage of the Soviet
doctor Leonid Rogozov who made an appendix removal operation on himself in the
hard conditions of the Antarctic expedition.
Sometimes I reflect upon this in solitude and ask myself if I could do the same and
only one answer comes to my mind: “I would do my best…”

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