5 People Who Were Forced to Cut Themselves Open and Slop Around in Their Own Guts

Tell me if the pain is too much, okay, me?
5 People Who Were Forced to Cut Themselves Open and Slop Around in Their Own Guts

There aren’t many jobs that summon a more immediate “ooh la la” than a surgeon. It’s such a famously tough job that it occupies rarefied air along with rocket science as one of the quintessential “genius” occupations. Even the most stalwart grumps will have a hard time arguing against it being anything but a big deal, given the extensive education, fine motor skills and confidence necessary in equal parts. There’s also the whole “saving lives” part. Not to mention that in case you ever have an organ go wrong, it’s best not to have pissed off the profession that removes those.

Surgery is also, like moving a couch, something that’s medically inadvisable to attempt by yourself. Nevertheless, in times of overwhelming urgency or dangerously high curiosity, it’s happened many times throughout history. Personally, I have no idea how anybody would trust themselves to make sure everything that needs to be in there stays in there. If I can’t fix my own broken headphones, I’m definitely not rolling the dice on my digestive system. Against all odds, though, sometimes it works out.

To that end, here are five people who successfully performed surgery on themselves…

Leonid Rogozov


Dont get sick here.

Access to a functional hospital is a piece of urban planning so essential as to be a matter of public safety. If you get clipped by a rental scooter, you want to know they won’t have to tote your leaking bits too far before you can get stitched up. But if you’re living somewhere that has single-digit signs of human life, like the Antarctic, your access to quality medical care is a little more strained. All of which is to say, Russian doctor Leonid Rogozov realized very quickly that he was likely the only surgeon within an upsettingly wide radius that was capable of removing his own highly infected appendix. 

He couldn’t fly, given the weather. There was a boat scheduled that could take him back… in a year. Appendicitis might be the most perfectly unfortunate ailment to force a self-surgeon’s hand as well, given that it’s horrendously painful and, if allowed to burst, has a good chance of death. Basically, he had no other choice but to take the scalpel to himself. And so, he recruited his colleagues to serve as ersatz surgeon’s assistants, something they were probably just as upset about as he was, and dug in. Perhaps the worst detail of all: He tried to use a mirror, but operating in reverse was too confusing, so he operated by touch, wet braille-reading his way to a successful operation. He also had to take frequent breaks, even with local anesthesia, to avoid passing out.

Jock McLaren

Public Domain

LEFT: the baddest motherfucker alive.

Performing any sort of ‘ectomy outside of a proper operating room is a sketchy proposition, but for Rogozov above, at least he was a trained surgeon, and was able to prep his surroundings accordingly. I would say it’s exceedingly rare that anyone can out-badass a story about how you removed your own appendix, but if Rogozov ever shares it in a bar, he better hope Jock McLaren isn’t within earshot. An Australian guerrilla fighter in World War II, McLaren was in exactly the environment that job would suggest when he felt a fateful tickle from his own appendix.

Now, McLaren was a medical practitioner himself, but of a slightly less useful specialty: animals. He was a trained veterinarian, which is like an Uber driver suddenly finding himself racing in Formula One. Nevertheless, it was either his appendix or him, so he got to work. Operating in the less-than-sterile environment of a wartime jungle, a place that is literally referred to as “the shit,” he popped out the stubborn organ and sewed himself back up using coconut fibers. In his own words, he recounts the occasion thusly: “It was hell, but I came through alright.” Australia is so fucked up, man.

Mohab Foad


“Its an honor to operate on such a strong, handsome patient, wouldnt you agree, nurse?”

So far, we’ve reviewed cases of one-person operations that were only attempted as a last resort. In order to go snipping around in your own guts, it usually takes something like “certain death” to tip the pro-con list in that direction. Performing your own surgery out of a mixture of impatience and morbid curiosity? I can’t figure out if it’s impressive or just full-on Hannibal shit. The idea of a curious human tinkerer is just not something I vibe with.

One such guy is Cincinnati surgeon Mohab Foad. Maybe he was comfortable combing through garbled viscera from his experience with Cincinnati chili, who knows. It also happened in 2021, which feels altogether too recent. Shouldn’t we have a robot for that by now? Foad was planning on being purely a surgery recipient until the last moment, when his hand, where a ligament repair was scheduled, was anesthetized. It was his left hand, and given that he was right-handed, he decided to jump in and use one to repair the other. Impressive? Yes? Necessary? It simply can’t be.

Ines Ramirez



When you have something in you that wants out, it’s best to acquiesce. Sometimes, that’s an appendix. Sometimes, it’s a tiny, very hungry human. That was the case for one Mexican woman who can single-handedly make the argument that birth by C-section isn’t always easier. She also had a very stark disadvantage versus everyone discussed so far: a complete lack of surgical or medical experience, and not so much as a scalpel in sight. If you’re some sicko that’s been disappointed that so far, it’s all been trained doctors doing it, well, here you go. This is the one that feels more like something Rambo would do behind a cargo crate than a careful, if unorthodox procedure. 

Ines Ramirez had been in labor for 12 hours (really a worst of both worlds situation) and realized she was going to need a C-section. Unfortunately, the nearest hospital was 50 miles away, she had no phone and her husband was at the bar. Who’s your husband, Andy Capp? Ramirez got to the dirty work: She took a couple shots and used a 6-inch knife to cut into her stomach and deliver her own baby, before passing out. She’s the only known person in history to have performed a self-cesarean where both her and the baby survived. Pretty cool achievement to hang your hat on, but not quite sure the juice is worth the squeeze.



If you’ve long thought there isn’t a much more pleasant word to imagine than “castration,” let me kick it up a notch for you with a single prefix: self-castration. Though it might seem more achievable than a surgery that requires you to cut right into the breadbox, you also have to remember that the reproductive organs don’t entirely dangle outside. People who have attempted self-castration or self-gelding aren’t all that rare throughout history, either. Usually, not for survival reasons, but for reasons stemming from mental health, to a desire to reduce sex drive, to gender dysmorphia. One of the most singular examples? A medical student who attempted to reshape his adrenal glands, only to give up and head to the hospital half-done because of the pain

Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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