April 7, 2004

For the annals of self-surgery.
A woman in Mexico cut open her own womb with a knife and delivered a healthy baby boy in her rural home when problems developed during labor, doctors report in a medical journal.

The woman and her son, her ninth child, both survived despite an eight-hour car ride to the nearest hospital and a wait of several hours once she got there, said co-author Dr. Rafael Valle, a Northwestern University obstetrician who learned about the case from a colleague.

"She was asked, 'Why did you do that? Do you know you could have died?' She said, 'Yes, but I wanted to save my baby,'" Valle said Wednesday. He added: "This is heroic to me."

The authors of the report said there are other cases of women attempting the same thing, but none they could find in which the mother and child survived.

The woman, 40, lived in a dirt-floor house with no electricity or running water and had previously lost a baby during childbirth, the authors said.

She was alone when she went into labor, and fearing the same thing would happen when it appeared childbirth was not progressing, she decided to perform the crude C-section. She drank three small glasses of hard liquor first to numb the pain, he said.
Yikes! That reminded me of story told by the great director Werner Herzog--I think it's in the incredibly cool documentary My Best Fiend--about working on the movie Fitzcarraldo. A crew member who was cutting down brush with a chainsaw got bitten by a snake so poisonous it would kill him in seconds. The man instantly used the chainsaw to cut off his own leg, saving his life. I don't trust Herzog not to lie, though, but it's a great story. The C-section one though is in a medical journal ... apparently.

No comments: