Trapped by extreme blizzard conditions, Dr Leonid Rogozov was forced to operate on himself by taking his appendix out.
Dr. Rogozov was the only doctor on a team of thirteen researchers that took part in the sixth Soviet Antarctic Expedition between 1960 and 1961. On the morning of April 29, 1961, Rogozov experienced nausea and fever accompanied by pain in the low right portion of his stomach. He was unable to be airlifted to the nearest station in Mirney which was more than 1,000 miles away. Severe blizzard conditions prevented aircraft from landing or taking off at the time. Rogozov had no other option than to perform the operation on himself.
The operation lasted an hour and 45 minutes with the help of a driver and meteorologist who provided him with instruments and a mirror to help Rogozov observe areas not directly visible. The surgery was a success and in 1961, Dr. Rogozov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. Dr. Rogozov recovered within two weeks and was back to his normal duties. Due to this incident, changes in policy were changed so that extensive health checks were mandatory for personnel to be deployed on such expeditions.
By Hope Thompson