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Top 10 Incredible Self Surgeries

Blogball . . . Comments

[WARNING: This list contains some graphic images.] Self-surgery is the act of performing a surgical procedure on oneself. Sometimes it becomes necessity in extreme conditions to perform this act. This list includes 10 such individuals that because of great circumstances found it necessary to do so. It should be mentioned that self castration and self mutilation is actually the most common form of self- surgery and is not included in this list. Just a word of caution: The descriptions and some pictures on this list are not for the squeamish.


Dr Jerri Nielsen
Born 1952


Surgical Procedure: Biopsy

Dr. Jerri Lin Nielsen is an American physician with extensive ER experience. In 1998 she was hired to spend a year at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station where she would be the only doctor during the winter. In early March 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen discovered a lump in her right breast. After consulting US physicians via email and video conference she performed a biopsy upon herself. The results were inconclusive because the material used on site was too outdated to allow for a precise diagnosis. It was then decided to send a military plane to airdrop supplies and medication for her treatment. Using the new supplies, she performed another biopsy which allowed for better scans to be sent to the US, where it was confirmed that the cells were cancerous. With the help of her makeshift medical team, Nielsen then began self-administering chemotherapy. In October a military transport aircraft was sent several weeks ahead of schedule to bring her back home. Once back in the United States, after multiple surgeries, complications and a mastectomy Nielsen went into remission.

Interesting Fact: Nielson became a motivational speaker and wrote a book about her experience. The book (Ice Bound) was later adapted into a made-for-TV movie starring Susan Sarandon.


Amanda Feilding
Born 1943

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Surgical Procedure: Trepanation

Amanda Feilding is a British artist and scientific director. Feilding suffered from a condition that left her feeling exhausted and spent years looking for a reputable surgeon who would perform a technique known as trepanning. This is a procedure where a tiny portion of the skull is drilled into to allow blood to flow more easily around the brain. Eventually she gave up and at age 27 she decided to do the surgery herself. She was equipped with a dentist’s electric drill operated by a foot pedal she then taped dark glasses to her face to stop the blood running into her eyes. She first made an incision with a scalpel and then drilled, dipping the drill bit in water every so often to cool it down. She lost almost a liter of blood but she was pleased with her surgery. Over the next four hours she noticed herself rising up with a feeling of elation and relaxation. Feilding says, “I went out and had steak for supper, and then I went to a party.”

Interesting Fact: Feilding made a short cult art film entitled ‘Heartbeat in the Brain’ and is shown only to invited audiences. She also ran for British Parliament twice, on the platform ‘Trepanation for the National Health’ with the intention of drawing attention to the fact that its potential benefits should be scientifically investigated.


Deborah Sampson
1760 – 1827

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Surgical Procedure: Extraction of Musket Ball

Deborah Sampson was actually mentioned in the “Top 10 Men Who Were Really Women” list as a notable omission. In 1782 Deborah Sampson was enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army. Going by the name of Robert Shutleff she was strong and tall enough to look like a man and it was thought she didn’t have to shave because she was a very young man. When her unit was sent to West Point, New York she was wounded in a battle nearby. She was taken to a hospital to be treated but snuck out so that she would not be discovered to be a woman. She operated on herself and removed one of the musket balls out of her thigh with a penknife and sewing needle. When she recovered from her wound she went back to her regiment. The next time Sampson was wounded her doctor found out she was a woman and in 1783 he arranged for her to be discharged from the Continental Army.

Interesting Fact: Due to her wounds, Gannett received a military pension from the United States of America. Later, in 1838, Congress passed a special act granting a pension to her heirs.


Dr Evan O’Neill Kane
1862 – 1933


Surgical Procedure: Appendectomy and Inguinal Hernia Repair

Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane was a pioneer in the medical profession and chief surgeon of New York City’s Kane Summit Hospital. Kane wanted to prove to the world that general anesthesia was often unnecessary for minor operations. He used himself for a test case and operated on himself removing his own appendix using only local anesthetic. Dr. Kane propped himself up on the operating table with a mirror over his abdomen and three other doctors in the operating room as backup. Kane made the large incision needed to remove the appendix and his assistants sutured him up. (This was before new techniques allowed doctors to make small ‘Band-Aid’-size incisions for appendix removal). Then, in 1932, at age 70, Dr. Kane performed an even more complicated surgery on himself to repair an inguinal hernia. Because of the close proximity to the femoral artery it was a particularly delicate operation which Kane performed it in just under two hours.

Interesting Fact: The photo above is from his hernia repair and when performing the surgery Kane was very relaxed and even joking as he came within millimeters of important blood vessels.


Joannes Lethaeus
Born circa 1620


Surgical Procedure: Lithotomy (Removal of stones formed inside certain hollow organs such as the bladder and kidneys)

I found this particularly interesting because this self surgery occurred over 360 years ago. Dr. Nicolaes Tulp was a Dutch surgeon and mayor of Amsterdam. Below is the exact text from his book “Observationes medicae” In this case he describes Joannes Lethaeus who was a blacksmith who performed Lithotomy surgery on himself. The illustration above is also from Dr. Tulp’s book and displays the stone that Lethaeus removed from his own kidney and the knife that he used.

Having decided that no one but himself would cut into his flesh, he sent his wife to the fish market, which she didn’t mind doing. Only letting his brother help him, he instructed him to pull aside his scrotum while he grabbed the stone in his left hand and cut bravely in the perineum with a knife he had secretly prepared, and by standing again and again managed to make the wound long enough to allow the stone to pass. To get the stone out was more difficult, and he had to stick two fingers into the wound on either side to remove it with leveraged force, and it finally popped out of hiding with an explosive noise and tearing of the bladder. Now the more courageous than careful operation was completed, and the enemy that had declared war on him was safely on the ground, he sent for a healer who sewed up the two sides of the wound together, and the opening that he had cut himself, and properly bound it up; the flesh of which grew so happily that there no small hope of health was, but the wound was too big, and the bladder too torn, not to have ulcers forming. But this stone weighing 4 ounces and the size of a hen’s egg was a wonder how it came out with the help of one hand, without the proper tools, and then from the patient himself, whose greatest help was courage and impatience embedded in a truly impenetrable faith which caused a brave deed as none other.

Interesting Fact: There is an oil painting by Rembrandt called “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” and shows Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (who wrote the above text) explaining the musculature of the arm to medical professionals and is housed in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.


Sampson Parker
Born circa 1960


Surgical Procedure: Amputation of Right Arm

In September of 2007 Parker a Farmer from South Carolina was harvesting corn when some stalks got stuck in a set of rollers that shuck the cut corn. He reached in the still-running machine to pull the stalks out and the rollers grabbed first his glove and then his hand. Parker tried yelling for help, but there was no one near the isolated field in Kershaw County. For more than an hour, he tried to pull his hand free, only to have it pulled ever further into the machinery. He was able to reach an iron bar and jam it into a chain-and-sprocket that drove the rollers, and, with his fingers growing numb he pulled out a small pocketknife and started to cut his own fingers off to free himself. Before he could do that the sprocket grinding against the rod he’d jammed in it threw off sparks and set the ground litter on fire. Parker then knew he had to cut his arm off or die right there. Parker credits the fire with keeping him from passing out from the shock of cutting through his arm. When he got down to the bone, he dropped onto the ground, using the force of his own weight to break the bone and free him from the machine. When he was finally loose he got in his pickup truck and started driving his truck into the middle of the road to force a car to stop. Finally a motorist stopped and a rescue helicopter was called in to take him to a hospital. Parker spent three weeks in a burn center before going home.

Interesting Fact: While he was recuperating, about 25 of his neighbors got together to finish harvesting his corn,


Dr Leonid Rogozov
Born 1937


Surgical Procedure: Appendectomy

At the age of 27 Soviet Doctor Leonid Rogozovwas was stationed at the Novolazarevskaya base in the Antarctic. The doctor recognized his own acute appendicitis and worsening condition. Because of the absence of a support aircraft and inclement weather along with the danger of a burst appendix the doctor decided he would have to perform surgery on himself. With the team’s meteorologist holding the retractors, a driver to hold the mirror and other scientists passing surgical implements, he sat in a reclined position and cut out his own appendix under local anesthetic. During the operation he passed out, but was able to continue and complete the procedure in little less than two hours.

Interesting Fact: A detailed report was written by Dr Rogozov documenting the unusual event along with the photo shown above. The doctor made a full recovery and resumed all duties in two weeks.


Douglas Goodale
Born 1965


Surgical Procedure: Amputation of Right Arm

In 1998 Douglas Goodale a 35 year old lobster fisherman from Maine was hauling lobster pots up from the sea floor. When he reached his first trap and started pulling up his catch a huge wave hit the boat creating a slack in the rope which then spooled around the drum. As he reached to turn off the drums motor and untangle the rope his sleeve got caught in the winch. Within seconds the winch had taken hold of his hand and his arm. Alone and unable to free himself and his body hanging outside the boat, the fisherman’s survival instincts took over and used his good arm to pull his body back into the boat. Because of the way his right arm was twisted he had to dislocate the shoulder joint of his injured arm in the process. The only way for Goodale to free himself was to cut off his own arm. Thinking about his wife and two daughters, Goodale grabbed his twine knife and began to saw off his right arm. The cold ocean water and the twisting had cinched up the wounds and helped to reduce blood loss. Goodale then managed to pilot his boat back into the harbor to get medical help.

Interesting Fact: Having only one arm has not kept Goodale from two seasons of lobstering and from completely overhauling his 35’ wooden boat down to the bare planks. Goodale was also featured in the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” where 1,000 volunteers Goodale’s double-wide mobile home with a $500,000 log home.


Aron Ralston
Born 1975


Surgical Procedure: Amputation of Right Arm

Aron Ralston’s experience made international news so many will be familiar with his story. Ralston is an American mountain climber and a mechanical engineer. He left his career in engineering to climb all of Colorado’s “fourteeners”, or peaks over 14,000 feet high. In 2002 while he was on a canyoneering trip alone in Blue John Canyon a boulder fell and pinned his right forearm. After five days of unsuccessfully trying to lift or break the boulder, a dehydrated and delirious Ralston prepared to cut off his already dead arm. Using a dull blade he cut the soft tissue around the break and then used the tool’s pliers to tear at the tougher tendons. Finally freed, Ralston was still 8 miles from his truck he had to rappel down a 65-ft cliff, then hike out of the canyon. Eventually he met with other hikers and was given food and water. Aron was finally transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction Colorado for surgery.

Interesting Fact: Later Ralston’s arm was retrieved by park authorities and removed from under the boulder. It was cremated and given to Ralston. He later returned to the boulder and left the ashes there. Aron Ralston still enjoys mountain climbing with the aid of a prosthetic arm.


Ines Ramírez
Born 1960

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Surgical Procedure: Caesarean Section

Ramírez Pérez lives in rural Rio Talea Mexico which has 500 people and only one phone. In March of 2000 the 40-year-old mother of seven was alone in her cabin when her labor started. She assumed her birthing position by sitting up and leaning forward. At midnight after 12 hours of continual pain and little advancement in labor and rather than experience another fetal death that occurred from her last pregnancy Ramírez decided to operate on herself. She drank from either a bottle of rubbing alcohol or 3 small glasses of hard liquor” (different accounts vary). She then grabbed a 15-cm knife and began to cut. Ramirez sawed through skin, fat and muscle and after operating on herself for an hour she reached inside her uterus and pulled out her baby boy who breathed and cried immediately. She says she cut his umbilical cord with a pair of scissors and then passed out. When she regained consciousness she wrapped clothes around her bleeding abdomen and asked her 6-year-old son to run for help. Several hours later the village health assistant found Ramírez alert and lying beside her healthy baby. She was then taken to the nearest hospital eight hours away by car and underwent surgery to repair complications resulting from damage to her intestines incurred during her C-section. She was then released from the hospital and made a complete recovery.

Interesting Fact: Ramírez is believed to be the only woman known to have performed a successful caesarean section on herself. Her case was written up in the March 2004 issue of the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Contributor: Blogball

  • Ocean Man

    viva mexico!!

    • Melissa

      Que viva!

  • Usher

    how cud she operate on herself while she waz drunk!!

    • TROY

      It’s not uncommon for people to cut into themselves under the influences of alcohol. Although being a woman (whose medical findings show that gender, height, weight, and metabolism contribute to the alcohol effects on the human body), the alcohol would not have taken full effect making her drunk. It would have nulled her nerves so she couldn’t feel anything, and also the adrenaline included in the story would have prevented the alcohol from having her lose total consciousness.

  • beff

    oh and i think cutting into your own taint must be closer to number one….

    • TROY

      She didn’t cut into her “taint”. She cut through her her abdomen (the area around the belly-button).

  • akino

    freaky list. interesting and incredible.

  • TheGreatBuddha

    Wow… a self c-section that’s pretty hardcore.


    damn…when will i ever get to post first

  • anna

    such bravery!

  • MT

    Now thats a great list! I must be a total wimp because there’s no way I could cut myself open, drill a hole in my own head or break my own arm. Some of this stuff is like the SAW horror movie series; if you want to live cut off your own arm. I’ll be re-reading this for months. Thanks BB!

  • Tom

    An interesting thought about the arm amputations. These people survived because they were brave enough to carry out such an operation. I wonder how many thousands have died because they were not brave enough to cut off their own limb when faced with similar life or death situations.

  • jhoyce07


  • astraya

    It’s just before dinner time in Korea, and despite the warning I read and looked through. I’ll return later!

  • ligeia

    These people are pretty amazing. I don’t think I could operate on myself, having said that, I Hope I’m never in a situation where I have to make that choice.

  • Tricia

    For Jerri Nielson’s story I kept thinking that she looked so much like Susan Sarandon! I even thought that Susan Sarandon should play her in a movie. :) Oh well, moment over.

    That was an awesome list. Thanks for starting my day off right.

  • Camico

    haha Tricia i thought the same thing >.>

    awesome list, its amazing the things people will do to save their life (see MT’s post about SAW)

  • sugen

    heart-wrenching…amazing things we can do

  • Black-Yami-Cat

    Ew. I can take almost anything, but people breaking their own bones is just…. ick.

    I hope that I never have to do anything like this

  • Tricia

    Camico: glad I’m not the only one.

  • beff

    i would not be able to break my own bones…ugh.
    i would just die crying…
    The number one is the only one i could think about doing. the labor pain was probably
    horrific for a baby not coming out…plus the thought of your baby dying because of
    of lack of action must have been a big push….i think i would have sent my son for help before hand though…

  • Clouds


  • matthewsej

    Its amazing what your survival instinct can do. I hope I never have to make a decision like that.

  • notherguitar

    These people are amazing and don’t count yourself out. These people were placed in a fight or die situation who knows what a pearson is capable in a scenario like this. It just goes to show you the human will to survive.

  • Jono

    I don’t think I could live without one of my limbs. I always watch those movies where there’s 4-8 people, and they’re all ****ed some way or another, and I think to myself, who are they kidding? They’re as good as dead, why don’t they get it over and done with in a less painful manner than what’s coming. Similarly say if I was stuck under a boulder, I’d find it very hard to cut my leg/arm off. In the moment, I might change my mind and do it. But I just can’t see myself doing it, or living afterwards and not feeling “incomplete.”

  • Copaface

    This made me feel quite squeamish lol
    Interesting list though :)

  • Yuck………scary……interesting though….good to know that people are so courageous…………I faint at the sight of blood…..God…

  • ZedroZ

    An ex co-worker of mine broke his own wrist while serving with the army to get out of doing his morning drill…
    Not courageous in the slightest I know, it back fired as well because when the officer in charge discovered it was self inflicted he was discharged.
    just goes to show the lengths people go to really!

  • Randy

    I’m confused. #8 references Deborah Sampson who went by the alias Robert Shutleff. But in the “Interesting Fact” it mentions someone named Gannett. Who is that? Did I miss something?

    At any rate, a very interesting list.

  • byaskal

    The picture for #10 is Susan Sarandon, not Dr. Nielsen (see caption on this page On the cover of her book, Dr. Nielsen has a rounder face.

  • Future Mrs. Frusciante

    absolutly amazing,
    i cant imagine how they did that!
    the other day i slammed my hand in a folding tray, and i thought i was going to pass out from the pain…i couldnt imagine sawing off my own arm or giving myself a c-section.
    what amazing people!

  • The Dude

    cool list! right arms seem kinda unlucky….

  • I45 start

    Incredible! A matter of self preservation I can understand, but #1 giving herself a c section…….only a mother could do something like that.

  • STL Mo

    WOW. What a fascinating macabre list. Just the thing to give me the shivers with my morning coffee! Nice job, Blogball.

  • DiscHuker

    blogball: great work. fascinating topic and excellently researched. classic LV.

    beff: i’m there with you. i think i passed out for a moment when i read the sentence “he instructed him to pull aside his scrotum while he grabbed the stone in his left hand and cut bravely in the perineum with a knife”.

    these people are truly extraordinary.

  • Kreachure

    Argh! I’m not gonna read this list! Or the comments! The intro was gruesome enough for me! :P

  • ligeia

    Randy: if you look very carefully at the picture for number 8 you will see on her headstone that her full name is in fact Deborah Sampson Gannett, mystery solved!

  • Realist

    Yo, fuck that. I’d just throw in the towel and die.

  • psychosurfer

    Drilling your own skull…

  • Randall


    That’s all I have to say.

  • GTT

    The self C-section just made me want to pass out… Actually, they were all pretty nausiating (although incredibly brave). I really dont know if I could go through with something like that… It´s incredible what our survival instinct will make us do…

  • Callie

    did they model an episode of “House” on number 10? With the chick from Romy and Michelle?

  • b

    absolutely amazing list! I can’t imagine any of it. The lady drilling into her head though that one seems a little uneccesarily iffy. #1 though how brave.

  • warrrreagl

    I have not the words….

  • Rat of Steel

    I’m thinking that Ms. Ramirez, featured in the #1 entry, has and will have an ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE amount of emotional leverage on her son while he grows up. Just think about it:
    “Perez, you naughty brat! You think you can just sit there and talk back to me? Do you have ANY idea what it took to GET YOU OUT OF ME?!”

  • MzFly

    Okay, some of these descriptions made me squirm a little but, these are some really amazking stories. Makes me wonder if I would be able to go through with somethinsg like that for my own survival.

  • Lauren

    Gruesome list… interesting, but gruesome. I’d heard of #1 and #2 but the others are new to me!

  • Reading the title, my reaction was “Oh, yuck!”, but reading the list was an inspiring experience.
    Yes, the woman who trepanned herself was a bit of a nut job, but the woman who performed her own Caesarean Section is an amazing hero in anyone’s universe.
    All of the men who amputated their arms, as difficult as that decision had to be, did so in order to save their lives…wouldn’t we all make the same decision?
    Unlike some of the comments above, I have no problem with the sight of blood. About 20 years ago I had an accident which caused a sharp piece of metal to slice through part of my left hand, severing the first tendon (it was a catfood lid, I was feeding my daughters cats…I hate cats!).
    When the surgeon was setting the operation up to repair the tendon, it was under local anesthesia, I had him position the arm and hand so that I could watch the procedure. He was solidly against this, at first, he was positive I would vomit or faint or do something to hinder him, but I assured him I was perfectly okay with it.
    He finally gave in.
    I remember my first comment was “It looks just like meat.”
    We ended up discussing the operation step by step as it progressed. It was fascinating!

  • Cedestra

    I believe #2 has been asked to work with the man who will be embaring on a one year trip of both poles and Mt. Everest.

    Arran Frood: I would suggest a private message to JFrater; you should find contact information in the About section.

  • smurff

    Great list, It just shows us that some people have an extraordinary will to live, when the chips are down.

  • Christian

    Wow, I admire these folks….I don’t think I could find the courage to operate on myself…Hope I never have to find out.

  • Ducky423

    Wow!!! Having had a c-section myself I truly admire they woman from Mexico. There is no way I could have done that. When I had my c-section they had to tilt me head down and administer more anesthetic because I could still feel everything after the usual dosing and prepartions. I could never imagine the pain she must have been in. What a great Mom!!!

  • ChristineM

    This is amazing, I can’t even wrap my head around the people who performed surgery on their own torso. You’d have to have a very tenacious desire to live to do this kind of stuff to yourself, or perhaps it’s just survival instinct…I hope I’ll never know

  • Blitzen

    Trepannation has been around since neolithic times at least, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Having said that, though, I don’t think I could take a drill to my own head! One little slip, and…..

  • Freshies

    I live in Grand Junction, Colorado, and #2 actually happened in a canyon in Utah, not Colorado.

  • guy

    wow i cant even think about cutting myself without freaking out and these people had to do these things to themselves.
    Ralston is a badass. i just gotta say…. well everyone on this list is badass for sure

  • Toeknee

    Thanks for the explanation of “self surgery” :) Let’s see…surgery on self?

  • PT

    I know my comments don’t add anything to the comments but I just had to say how incredably brave these people are (Even those performing surgery under anistetic)pathetic wimp that I am I think my gene line would end long before any of these procedures

  • Ruby

    I can not believe how incredibly brave these people were. I felt like I was going to pass out through most of the list and in fact I still feel a little woozy. Obviously I am a big wimp so I can not imagine going through what they went through. Great list.

  • joebecca

    what a crazy and interesting list!!

  • Blogball

    Thank you for the comments everyone.
    Wow segu, ( #45) I thought I was brave when I finally got the nerve up to watch the needle go into my arm when I donate blood.

    Freshies( #52) yes Blue John Canyon where it said the incident occurred is in Utah. I should have mentioned the state as well.

    Also: I didn’t mention this in the information concerning Dr. Jerri Lin Nielsen (#10) but unfortunately her cancer has recently returned in the form of a brain tumor. So maybe we can all wish good thoughts for this brave woman who has been through so much already.

  • jim

    30:”Incredible! A matter of self preservation I can understand, but #1 giving herself a c section…….only a mother could do something like that.”

    Yes, well, I don’t really see a father giving himself a c-section. haha sorry couldn’t resist. I know what u meant.

    Riveting list. The right arm seems to be a popular point of pending doom.

  • Pingback: Casco Bay Boaters Blog » » Top 10 Incredible Self Surgeries: No. 3; Maine Lobsterman Amputates Own Arm()

  • Beasjt

    The dutchman Bart hughes drilled a hole in his forhead with an Black&Dekker on januari 6 1965.
    Here you can see him do it:

  • Navik

    holy shit these people are insane, my high school shop teacher had to cut off his own right arm as well when it was caught in machinery

  • Joss

    Absolutely incredible stories.

  • flibbertigibbet

    As far as slicing into the body goes: while there are many nerves on the surface that will feel a great deal of pain, your insides tend to be fairly impervious (or so I have been told by doctors- let’s just say I was injured in such a way that the subject came up). So you could stick a needle in your eye, for instance (don’t!), and the most painful part will be at the surface, even if you wiggle the needle around inside… I kind of lost sight of my point, but I think it is something along the lines of some things not being as painful as they sound. I’m not knocking the excruciating pain some of the subjects in this list no doubt experienced, but for the ones anesthetized especially, I could see the experience being more exciting than scary. I know I’d do it if I could, but I’m probably weird like that. I was so disappointed when they wouldn’t let me watch my c-section, I kept asking my husband to peek over the curtain and tell me how it looked…

  • Christine

    I think I threw up a little…

    Amazing stories though. I would probably die before doing most of these things. Who knows though, obviously the survival instinct is strong.

  • deepthinker

    Amazing. I watched a 20/20 Special about Aaron Ralston, and it was unreal. I couldn’t imagine being trapped for days and then have to make a decision like that. I have a hard enough time popping a zit.

  • Mom424

    Blogball you write the best lists. Great research, not skimpy on the details, and interesting subject matter. Absolutely perfect.

    Segue: I too am good with blood and gore; usually it belongs to someone else though. Not so sure I wouldn’t be dieing under that rock.

  • MT

    By the way, wasn’t there an incident where a man gave himself liposuction with a utility knife and a wet-vac vacuum cleaner? I think he died though so I guess he wouldn’t make this list of survivors.

  • Precision

    Incredible stories, thanks for producing such an interesting list Blogball!

    As other commentors have mentioned, it’s truly amazing what someone can do when they are faced with the choice ‘chance at life or certain death’. The fact is that no-one knows how they will react until they are in a situation where they are faced with that choice.

    It’s all very well and good to say that you wouldn’t be capable of cutting off your own arm, but I wonder how many of the people mentioned in this list would have said the same thing before their accidents? The will to survive must be an incredibly powerful force.

    As a side note, it perplexes me why some individuals put their hands inside still-running machinery when something goes wrong (a la #5). A moment without thought and they’re left with a lifetime of consequences.

  • 66. Mom424: I too am good with blood and gore; usually it belongs to someone else though.
    I think that’s part of the whole “mom” thing. We end up having to do things we’d never imagine doing pre-babies.
    I remember shattering my big toe and breaking my metatarsal while I was still nursing my youngest. I refused the general anesthesia the Orthopedist wanted to give me while he set my bones because I was afraid it would get into my milk. I just did my Lamaze breathing throughout the procedure and all was fine; the doctor was astonished, though.
    He said,”How could you stand it? I’ve had big, strong, truckers faint dead away from the pain, and you didn’t even flinch!”
    “Your truckers never gave birth”, I told him, and hobbled out.

  • scrumpy

    yey! this is this best list since the last best list. Good stuff :)

  • Jessy

    Segue- forgive me, but you come across as slightly accident prone :P. Seriously, you sliced a tendon opening cat food? And how did you annihilate your toe?

    Precision has narrowly beaten me to my main point, which was “WHO THE CRAP STICKS THEIR ARM INTO RUNNING FARM EQUIPMENT?!” I’d count most of the people on this list as pretty amazing, but the guy with his arm in the corn thresher should be nominated for a Darwin award…..

    Those ones from Antarctica/South Pole are pretty hardcore. Even here in Korea I’m paranoid that something’s gonna happen and I’ll need to see a doctor- things like that get much more complicated when you don’t speak the local language and you live in a smallish city where most people don’t speak English. Should the day come I’ll have to get my co-worker to go with me and translate.

  • 71. Jessy: Segue- forgive me, but you come across as slightly accident prone . Seriously, you sliced a tendon opening cat food? And how did you annihilate your toe?
    Well, first of all, the two accidents were 15 years apart.
    The toe came first: I’d been lying out, sunbathing while the babies were napping, and the suntan lotion had apparently gotten onto the soles of my feet.
    The phone rang in the kitchen. I ran to answer it. The floor was linoleum and there were three stairs, into which I skidded…there went the toe!
    The cat food incident was the result of a can of cat food which had gone bad. When I pulled back on the ring, the lid exploded off the can and into my hand. I was suddenly looking at my hand with a big, shiny, round, metal, thing, sticking out of it.
    Oh! And I had to drive myself to the hospital in a stick-shift car!

  • kgreer6350

    anyone ever heard of Hugh Glass? the mountain man who after mauled by a bear crawled fifty miles to a fort- but he had an infection all over his back so he rolled a dead log over and let thousands of maggots eeat the infection out? those mountain man guys were tough…

  • ab.

    damn that shit is crazyy! #1 the c-section one..

  • Vera Lynn

    I agree with most of the above comments. As I was reading thru I was thinking “I was gonna say that!”
    That being said, I know I could absolutely do any of those (except the brain drill which to me sounds “elective” and not life saving). I have full custody and would do ANYTHING to keep my kids from my ex. ANYTHING!!!!

  • astraya

    Great work, blogball: you have rendered Randall @ 37 almost speechless.

    I am very squeamish about anything that looks like a medical procedure. I even flinch at the promo for “Nip/Tuck”.

    I feel sick just reading these. I won’t be returning to this one again.

  • jackit

    I feel really useless now. haha…

    Interesting how more than one person bears the name sampson – they really lived up to the biblical one :P

  • bigski

    segue-everything you been through ,you got a guardian angel somewhere out there!

  • Yahtzee!

    That Mexican lady is a beast!

  • 78. bigski: My guardian angel earns his pay every day by keeping me from just tossing in the towel and overdosing bigtime on my opiates.
    You guys earn your pay everyday by keeping me laughing, not *wanting* to throw in that towel!

  • Jackie

    haha the only “self-surgery” I have done was nothing compared to what these people did….basically what happened was I dropped something VERY heavy on my toe and it got so swollen with blood that it became very painful to walk. I went to the doctor and they said that it was so painful because it had been bleeding so much on the inside and the the blood had no where to go and was causing a lot of pressure…so anyway they “drilled” a hole in my toenail with a hot poker and bled my toe to relieve the pressure.
    well later that night it was still very painful so I literally just sliced my toe open and let a LOT of blood out…it felt way better after that!

    ANYWAY I’m a wuss and if it came down to it and my arm was stuck in something…well I’m dying because there would be no way I’d be brave enough to cut my arm off

  • kunle


  • 81. Jackie: Survival is one of mankind’s strongest instincts. When it came down to living or dieing, Jackie, you’d be astonished at what you’d be willing and able to do without much, if any, thought.
    All of these people were certainly brave, and absolutely deserve adulation, but truth be told? Almost anyone, in the same circumstances, with someone and something to live for, would do the same thing.

  • cratian

    about no.6
    there was a case few years ago in bosnia.
    anyway i would die before i could cut my arm, or preform a operacion on my self…

  • Blogball

    segue, that was well said. I was thinking the same thing when I researched all of these people.

    Vera Lynn (#75), that was pretty funny. :-)

  • DiscHuker

    i went to wiki and read about hugh glass. wow, if that story is true…wow.

    most manly man ever?

  • karan8624

    Wow, truth be told, I think I would pass out the second I tried any of these things. #9 is kinda stupid because of the huge risk for something so trivial. Kind of makes me queasy thinking of it

  • 86. DiscHuker: Your post intrigued me enough to follow suit…wow, indeed! What amazed me the most, I think, was that he knew enough to have the maggots eat the dead flesh away.

  • Blogball

    DiscHuker, I just checked it out too. That just happened to me two weeks ago. Seriously though, now I’m thinking…….. Top 10 maggot saving stories. :-)

  • Jackie

    83 @ segue: I know, and that’s what everyone says but it’s like GAH could I REALLY do that? To be honest the only thing I know I would be able to do would be the self c-section, if it were a matter of saving my baby’s life there would be no question…plus I would be in so much pain from the difficult labor itself I’m sure I would have know problem with the pain from the c-section.

  • FallenMorgan

    I saw a thing about that Sampson guy on “I Survived.” Freaky shit.

  • Shadow

    Lots of grammatical errors here, J. Also, I thought number two occurred in Utah, not Colorado; or am I thinking of someone else?

  • Blogball

    Shadow, punctuation, spelling and “grammatical errors” has always been a shortcoming of mine. “Sorry” If you would bother reading the comments you would see that your “I thought number two occurred in Utah, not Colorado; or am I thinking of someone else?” question was already addressed and answered. See comment 52 & 58.

  • Amy

    Argh! Now im paranoid about my arms getting trapped in somthing >.

  • anthony p

    Its got to take a lot of testicular fortitude to cut through your own arm, these guys should form a club, dont think i could do it. Thats not to say females couldnt do it. Itense yet amazing.

  • 95. anthony p:…take a lot of testicular fortitude to cut through your own arm…Thats not to say females couldnt do it…
    It’s quite a well known fact that women can withstand pain much better than can men. While we are not as “strong” as men, because of physiology, there seems to be a chemical or hormonal advantage when it comes to pain. Maybe something to do with having to be able to push babies out…just a guess.

  • alphamale11

    Are you more afraid to die, or more afraid of living. Pain, fortunately in not a memory that can be physically felt again, It can be remember, with many emotions. There have been many stories of survival that have involved physical travail, as great as those mentioned, more were less traumatic. Still in all, we never know who will have the strength to survive and who will succumb.

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  • 97. alphamale11: Frankly, I’m not afraid of either, but given a choice I’d rather live.
    Pain is my constant companion. I don’t like it, but I don’t fear it. I have a lovely life, a loving husband, wonderful children who turned into fantastic adults I’d like even if I wasn’t related to them, talents I can practice every day.
    Death is the great unknown. It either takes me to a better place, or is the end of all. Either way, what is there to fear?
    alphamale11, I think your question leaves too much out.
    No one could possibly know what they would do under the circumstances unless, and until, they find themselves in those circumstances.

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  • MermaidsTale

    I’d do what was necessary for my own survival…hopefully not drilling into my own skull though….

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  • Semyaza

    My God!Absolutely unbelievable!!These people have the strength to survive in any circumstances,to endure pain beyond the common limits!Great article!

  • Rich Rostrom

    In 1863, Confederate soldier Thomas Berry (a scout for cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest) was wounded by a bullet in the abdomen, which tore up his intestine. The army surgeon refused to operate, saying the bullet was too deeply embedded.

    Berry had been trained as a surgeon, and so determined to operate on himself. With the assistance of a nurse (a young widow), he pulled the damaged bowel out of his wound, repaired it, washed out the cavity, and then stitched up his abdomen.

    See _Four Years With Morgan and Forrest_, Captain Thomas Berry (Oklahoma City, 1914).

  • Rich Rostrom

    And who can forget “How to take your appendix out on the Piccadilly Line”:

  • Rich Rostrom

    Should be

    And who can forget “How to take your appendix out on the Piccadilly Line”:

  • MLou

    Was there an episode of House based on the first story? I recall seeing one where a female doctor is stuck somewhere and has to give herself a biopsy after consulting House via video chat. Anybody recall the same? Great site by the way. I’ve been perusing for the last two hours.

  • totoyTurat

    Wow.. These scenes are like those in saw series..
    “Live or die, the choice is yours.”

  • Jerry

    Re: #1 – you can drink rubbing alcohol? Really? And not die?

    I’ve got to have a talk with my bartender…….

  • gl3nk

    I removed a splinter from my thumb. I didn’t even cry.

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  • spike

    wow- these are very strong and brave people. they certainly deserve our admiration.

  • deviantmiss

    @gl3nk you are so,so brave – lol

  • rain

    #1 is trully number one.! Cutting her stomach using a knife did she think that she might hit her baby? That was brave.

  • I4gotmyMANTRA

    this list made me cry. in a good way. Number 1 and 4 are just so amazing… the strength that people have is incredible to me.

  • Pioner

    Dr. Leonid Rogozov (4) died September 21st, 2000.

  • Could you contact with me by E-mail?

    @Pioner (112):
    I have some information about Leonid Rogozov to add but it has to be discussed.

  • blogball

    I was sad to hear and I wanted to mention that Dr Jerri Nielsen (#10) died at age 57 in her home in Massachusetts. Her cancer went into remission until 2005, but had since metastasized to her brain before claiming her life on June 23, 2009.

  • Gennady Gusarov

    There is nothing to be done. Cancer is cancer.

  • Jordybear

    I know this is a completely fictional example but whilst reading this list I was reminded of the Chuck Phalanuick story “Guts” where a kid has gnaw through his own prolapsed intestine to prevent himself from drowning! Now that my friends is all kinds of disgusting and wrong!!!

  • Alyce Wilson

    Rich Rostrom: Thanks for the link. “How to take out your appendix on the Piccadilly Line” is one of my favorite silly Monty Python illustrations.

  • Belinda

    GREAT WOMEN!!!!!!!!!! AS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • dknypg83

    these are some of the bravest people i suppose!! crazily courageous!! all of them…

  • ja


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  • K-Dog

    Woah… That guy who did an apendisectomy (I hope that's spelt right!) on himself is a true hero.
    Me, if I had to choose between death or a healing a paper cut, I'd choose death. I couldn't handle a papercut ;)

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  • miss lo

    life is truly precious…

  • GERMAN27Moiseev

    ???????????, ???????????, ????????? ?????

  • Josie

    I know I’m probably super-late, but before I saw the date of the list I really, really expected to be on the list. It’s not all that surprising compared to others on the list, except in the way that it hit home in the US and just how close he was to dying, even before he started cutting. Even that might not be so remarkable. Just more documented. Also totally didn’t check page two for links to it.

  • bengalpuss29

    oh my god. how could she perform her own cesarian section i admire her courage & i can believe she’s the only person ever to have performed one on herselfi because who in their right mind would do that to themselves. i had a cesarian done with my last child and had an epidural & when that wore off i was in agony so the pain she must have been in must have been immense, brave lady.

  • bengalpuss29

    did you see the size of that kidney stone

  • bengalpuss29

    wow that kidney stone was huge

  • bengalpuss29

    huge kidney stone

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