5 Insane Doctors From History Who Put House to Shame

#2. Evan O'Neill Kane Performed Surgery on Himself


For those of you who squeal at the sign of an errant hangnail that needs removal, or even wince at the thought of someone waxing their eyebrows, you might want to skip this entry about Evan O'Neill Kane.

The Badassery:

Dr. Kane was no stranger to operating on himself. And if there's anything people should be a stranger to, it's that. And we're not talking about some 127 Hours situations where a guy is saving his own life through desperate, horrific measures. Dr. Feelgood planned out his own surgeries, and executed them. On purpose.

What's really impressive is the fact he did it under general anesthetic.

It started in 1919 when Kane self-amputated one of his own fingers that had become infected. OK, that's pretty weird, but, you know, maybe there was no one else around to perform the operation ... at his hospital that was named after his father.

One little digit amputation is one thing, a self-appendectomy is another thing altogether.

The Insanity:

Using only local anesthesia, Kane opened his own damn gut up and successfully removed his own damn appendix. Why didn't he ask one of his colleagues to perform the operation instead? Because he wanted to prove appendectomies only need local numbing. It was also about this time that he began tattooing the initial "K'' on his patients. In Morse code. Because how else would his patients remember that they now belonged to Dr. Frankenkane?

"On that note, I'll need you to come to the Chinese take away tonight so I don't forget my order."

The crazy part -- or, the craziest part -- is that the appendectomy wasn't even his most dangerous self-surgery. Ten years later he was right back on the self-operating table fixing his horseback-riding-induced hernia. The now 70-year-old surgeon performed the whole risky 1 hour, 45 minute operation save the final two or three stitches, chatting and laughing with the nurses the whole time like it wasn't no thing (which to him it obviously wasn't). This time, however, he did give a slight nod to his advanced age by allowing another doctor to participate in the operation.

As the tattooist.

"Wow, that snake you're drawing is starting to look a lot like a ... oh, very funny."

#1. Dr. David Nott Is an Action Hero

It's one thing to be a brilliant doctor. It's another to be a globe-trotting adventurer, constantly in the throes of some Indiana Jones-worthy escapades. And then it's still another to be some unholy combination of the two. Meet Dr. Knight in Shining Armor, David Nott.

The nerd you gave noogies to in high school is now featured in a Cracked article.

The Badassery:

To begin with, Nott is a vascular surgeon, a Doctors Without Borders volunteer, so right away you know this is not someone you want to go against in the "Most Accomplished" category at the high school reunion. After all, anyone who specializes in performing surgeries in war zones is going to have some stories to tell. It's not until you hear the stories, one after the other, that you appreciate what the guy is doing for a living.

He has an uncanny ability to stumble upon one medical Die Hard after another, constantly ending up in situations where he always seems to be going against the grain and fighting a hopeless, one-man battle to save the day ... and you can bet your ass the clock's ticking.

Any place with that kind of nonchalant gun-holding is a bad place.

Nott has found himself in the middle of Congo jungle, performing a life-saving emergency amputation on a boy who had been either bitten by a hippopotamus or caught in some rebel crossfire. No one was really sure which. Whatever the case, it wasn't just a simple amputation. Part of the boy's collarbone and shoulder blade needed to be removed, and he was going to lose a shit ton of blood during the procedure. This was an operation so rare and complex that only about 10 people a year have it in England. And Nott had never performed one.

He winged it, receiving hurried instructions from a colleague via text messages. And succeeded.

"Sever the pony artery? Jesus, Steve, I told you to get a Blackberry."

But to really appreciate Dr. David Nott, you have to hear the story of Landina Seignon, Haiti's "Miracle Baby." And if you're in for the long haul, you probably ought to grab some tissues.

About two weeks before the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a Haitian mother of four left her kids alone while she went out to buy some candles. They lived in one of the worst slums in Port-au-Prince, and the family didn't have electricity, so it wasn't like she was just trying to buy some scented ambiance for the home. Sadly, the house caught on fire and the three older children fled, leaving 6-week-old Landina alone in the burning home. She didn't die, but she didn't come out of the fire in good shape, either. So before the earthquake hit, Baby Landina was getting treatment for her severe burns at La Trinite Hospital in Port-au-Prince. After the earthquake hit, she sat in the rubble, burns and all, unnoticed for two days.

Frederic Sautereau/Telegraph
But sure, bitch about taking out the garbage.

And here's where the miracle comes in. Dr. Nott was on the ground in Haiti, helping with disaster relief, performing something like 12 operations a day, when Landina's case was brought to his attention. No one knew who her family was, or if they were even alive. But Nott knew that she had a very specific skull injury that was going to require years of intensive care, with equipment and professionals that weren't going to be found in Haiti.

The Insanity:

But it turns out that taking a severely injured, unclaimed child out of a disaster-stricken country is harder than you'd think:

"The official asked for Landina's birth certificate, which of course I didn't have. Nor could I say who her parents were or even whether they were alive. He told me to get out. I refused. I showed him a picture of Landina on my camera and said that her flight was leaving in a couple of hours and that she would die if she wasn't on it. A policeman was summoned but I clung to the arms of my chair."

"You want me to leave her here? You can respectfully piss off, sir."

Eventually, he not only got Landina to London, but he also founded a charity that would provide for her medical expenses, as well as a caregiver that would tend to her very, very sensitive wounds on her skull.

Ok, so Dr. Nott saves Landina's life and finds her a potential new family. Here's where things got tricky. A journalist who had been working alongside Nott all along did some investigative work to find Landina's family ... and voila. There they were. Marie Miracle and her children were still living in the slum, completely unaware that Landina was alive and getting treatment in London. Eventually the mother, the baby and the doctor are brought together ...


And a very specific charity is created that will provide Landina's whole family with a clean apartment and private schooling, and a Haitian doctor will donate his time and resources to helping Landina heal.


We told you to get the tissues out.

Pauli Poisuo is not a doctor, but you can still visit him at the Unpronounceable or read more of his stuff here.

For more unexpected badassery, check out The 5 Biggest Badass Popes and 6 Organizations You Didn't Know Were Secretly Badass.

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