How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Categories: Health and Medicine

The profession of a military surgeon requires from a specialist not only high skill, but also, often, making important decisions on which a person's life depends. We want to tell you about a real case from the practice of Soviet surgeons, when the fate of not only the patient, but also the doctors themselves depended on the skills and knowledge of doctors.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

The operation performed in the Dushanbe military hospital in September 1986 is absolutely unique. In the entire history of medicine, such a surgical intervention was not performed anywhere in the world, and Soviet doctors had to independently develop methods for its implementation and even design tools.

Soldier Vitaly Grabovenko during the battle with the Afghan Mujahideen equipped with a grenade launcher belt and was wounded. The soldier was given first aid on the spot and then airlifted to a military hospital in Dushanbe. There, Vitaly's numerous shrapnel wounds were treated and X-rays were taken, which did not reveal any additional problems.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Vitaly Grabovenko in the hospital

Grabovenko's injury was considered not serious and he had to quickly recover. But this did not happen — the wound in the area of the right shoulder did not want to heal, and the arm lost its mobility. The doctors assumed that the cause was an intermuscular hematoma and decided to conduct a second X-ray.

The second X-ray showed that the tissues contained an object measuring 11 by 3 centimeters, which the doctors could not recognize. The picture was shown to the military who were being treated in the hospital and two of them — a grenade launcher and a sapper recognized the object as a grenade, which is also on a combat platoon.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Lieutenant Colonel of the medical service Yuri Alekseevich Vorobyov

Experts have warned that the ammunition can explode at any time from accidental movement. For doctors, this news was a shock-Vitaly Grabovenko had already been in the department for two weeks, moved independently around the hospital and even once tried to play table tennis. The fact that the grenade didn't detonate was a miracle, but it was impossible to rely on it any further.

It was necessary to urgently perform an operation and remove a dangerous object from the soldier's body. A medical consultation was held, at which it was decided that the unique and incredibly dangerous operation would be performed by the head of the hospital, Yuri Vorobyov, and the surgeon, Alexander Dorokhin, would assist him. Anesthesia was assigned to Vladimir Moiseikin, and nurses, due to the special danger of the operation, it was decided not to involve.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Doctor Vorobyov is preparing for a dangerous operation

All three doctors were well aware of the risks they were taking and knew they could die. Vorobyov was the father of two children, and his wife was expecting a third child at that time, Moiseikin was also a young father, and Dorokhin had just married a month ago. Despite this, none of the doctors did not hesitate for a second, making a difficult choice.

Preparations for the operation were carried out in an emergency mode, taking into account the existing risk of explosion. The patient was placed in a separate room, which the nurses entered only in bulletproof vests. Special protective suits were brought for the doctors, in which the sappers carry out mine clearance. This outfit weighed 40 kg and was not very comfortable, especially considering the 40-degree heat that prevailed in Dushanbe at that time.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Before starting the operation

To make the surgeons as safe as possible, the factory urgently produced special tools-clips with a guard, like the hilt of a sword. In the event of an explosion, the steel protection should at least slightly reduce the damaging effect of the shrapnel. It was decided to perform the operation in the treatment room, and keep the adjacent operating room ready in case the explosion still occurs and the doctors themselves need help. Blood was also prepared for transfusion to all participants of the operation.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Tools used in the extraction of the grenade

There were two ways to extract the grenade. The easiest way was to cut it out, but this option was immediately ruled out by Dr. Vorobyov. In this case, the risk of explosion would be less, but the young guy would forever remain disabled with a fixed arm. It was decided to get the grenade through a neat incision — it was incredibly dangerous, but it allowed you to keep the limb working.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

At the bedside of a recovering patient

The operation, which was monitored even in Moscow, was successful. Surgeons managed to carefully remove the deadly foreign body from the patient's muscles, which was immediately handed over to the sappers. Vitaly Grabovenko was transferred to an ordinary ward, where he came to his senses and saw his father, who had flown to Dushanbe from the distant Chernihiv region.

How Soviet surgeons cleared a living person

Grenade recovered from Grabovenko's body

Interestingly, the operation can be considered the second birth of Vitaly in the literal sense, since on this day he turned 20 years old. The father and son decided not to inform Vitaly's wife about what really happened and informed her that it was just an appendicitis removal.After a couple of months, when the wounds healed, Grabovenko went home.

During the fighting in Afghanistan, doctors performed many feats, but this one was special. The story of the de-mining of a living person was published in dozens of Soviet newspapers, it was talked about on the radio and on television news, it was told to children at school. But very quickly, this incredible example of the dedication of Soviet doctors was forgotten and today it is almost not spoken about.

Keywords: Afghanistan | Soldier | Doctors | Operation | Feat | Sappers | USSR | Surgery

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