“Being a surgeon, he had no difficulty in diagnosing acute appendicitis,” says his son, Vladislav. “It was a condition he’d operated on many times, and in the civilised world it’s a routine operation. But unfortunately he didn’t find himself in the civilised world – instead he was in the middle of a polar wasteland.”
“Still no obvious symptoms that perforation is imminent, but an oppressive feeling of foreboding hangs over me… This is it… I have to think through the only possible way out – to operate on myself… It’s almost impossible… but I can’t just fold my arms and give up.”
“He was so systematic he even instructed them what to do if he was losing consciousness – how to inject him with adrenalin and perform artificial ventilation,” says Vladislav. “I don’t think his preparation could have been better.”
“A general anaesthetic was out of the question. He was able to administer a local anaesthetic to his abdominal wall but once he had cut through, removing the appendix would have to be done without further pain relief, in order to keep his head as clear as possible.”
“My poor assistants! At the last minute I looked over at them. They stood there in their surgical whites, whiter than white themselves,” Rogozov wrote later. “I was scared too. But when I picked up the needle with the novocaine and gave myself the first injection, somehow I automatically switched into operating mode, and from that point on I didn’t notice anything else.”
“Rogozov had intended to use a mirror to help him operate but he found its inverted view too much of a hindrance so he ended up working by touch, without gloves.”
Soviet Antarctic expedition, Novolazarevskaya Station, February 1961.