Would you perform an operation on yourself?

Delegating work has lots of benefits.

For example, if you delegate work you can focus your attention on more important areas and for the person receiving the delegated work it can be an opportunity to learn new skills and to prove themselves. Ultimately it can result in increased productivity for the organisation as a whole.

I would argue that some things though should always be delegated to others and this includes performing a medical operation on yourself.

Unfortunately for Dr Rogozov, delegating an operation was not possible and he was faced with the somewhat awkward prospect of having to operate on himself and remove his appendix.

The amazing story of a Soviet surgeon who was on an Antarctic research trip in the 1960s has been released by the British Medical Journal.

The task of the research team was to build a new Antarctic Polar base and after 9 weeks the new base was open. As expected, their ship was frozen in so they had to spend the winter at the base.

Dr Rogozov was the doctor that was with the team to deal with any medical problems that they had.

Unfortunately he was the one that was taken ill and developed Appendicitis. He had no choice but to operate on himself and an extract from his diary is as follows:

8 May 1961

“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.”

Wow! That’s what I call a tough day’s work.

If you ever feel a bit stressed that you have to do your own photocopying because there’s nobody to delegate it to then think yourself lucky that you’re not having to sharpen your scalpel and prepare yourself for an operation.

The full story can be found here at the British Medical Journal although be aware that some of the photos are not for the squeamish.

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