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6 Of The Most Incredible Surgeries Ever Performed

From out-of-body surgery to extreme cosmetic surgery in the name of art, these 6 stories illustrate incredible feats that have been achieved with a scalpel. 1. Everyone gets a sinus surgery Mark Weinberger, otherwise known as ‘The Nose Doctor’, told nearly all his patients that they would require sinus surgery. Although patients merely complained of the sniffles, Weinberger would mislead them with falsified pictures of sinus polyps, insisting surgery was the only option. The fact that he worked independent of other surgeons, and that he owned his own CAT scan machine meant that nobody questioned his decisions. Further advantageous to his practice was that he worked in a land of air pollution. Operating from Merrillville, Indiana, a place full of steel mills, patients with sinus problems just came pouring in. Besides living a life of luxury from dishonest earnings, Weinberger’s practice teemed with negligence, leading to several of his patient’s deaths. A series of events finally led to his arrest and imprisonment, with his traumatised victims splitting a $55 million settlement. 2. The case of ‘my brain made me do it’ After undergoing surgery to get rid of his seizures, Kevin suffered a relapse. Happy with the outcome from his initial surgery, Kevin decided to put himself through a second operation, on the condition that his love for music would not be tampered with. With Kevin conscious and singing on the table, surgeons identified parts of his brain where prodding would stop him singing, and avoided removing those areas. Soon after the operation, his wife Janet noted Kevin had a much larger appetite than before, played the piano non-stop, and had an insatiable desire for sex, leading him to download videos of bondage, animal and child pornography. After his arrest, Kevin argued in court that he was not in control when downloading child pornography. “It was me who did it, but it was me with a complete lack of neurological control,” he said. His neurologist Orrin Devinsky also claimed Kevin was suffering from Kluver-Blucy syndrome, and that Kevin was not to blame. Although the judge agreed that he was suffering from a disorder, Kevin spent 26 months behind bars for he knew his actions were wrong and could have sought help for it. 3. Where do you store a skull? Pageant queen Jamie Hilton’s life took a horrible turn after a fishing trip with her husband in June 2012. During the trip, Hilton took a 4-meter fall and smashed her head against a rock. To relieve the pressure from her brain oedema, 25% of her skull had to be removed, and what better place to keep the bone tissue alive than her own body – in her abdomen. Hilton wore a helmet for forty-two days to protect her head while healing, before surgeons retrieved her skull from her abdomen and attached it back to her head. Hilton lived to tell her tale, grateful for her chance at survival. 4. The origins of Langer’s lines 19th-century anatomy professor Karl Langer spent much of his time conducting research on cadavers – using an ice pick. Despite the fact that his ice pick had a rounded point, the wound produced on cadavers always seemed to take the shape of an oval. This phenomenon was a result of the orientation of collagen fibres in the skin pulling the wound apart. Curious, Langer conducted extensive experiments with numerous cadavers – to map out what is now known as ‘Langer’s lines’. This topological skin map is of relevance to the development of surgical techniques, particularly in cosmetic surgery, where an incision made parallel to Langer’s lines would heal better and produce less scaring than those that cut across. 5. The reincarnation of great works of art Mireille Suzanne Francette Port, otherwise known as Orlan, was the Frenchwoman behind ‘The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan’ project. Intending to become ‘the ultimate work of art’, she underwent numerous bizarre procedures to turn herself into bits of great paintings. For example, one surgery was to give her Mona Lisa’s forehead, and another for the chin of Botticelli’s Venus. Peculiarly, she had silicone implanted above both eyebrows to resemble horns. Surgeons wearing robes danced around the operating theatre in front of cameras, while Orlan recited poetry. The frosting on the cake was that she remained conscious throughout these operations, which were streamed live to art galleries. She also sold photos from her operations along with bits of her preserved flesh. 6. Not your typical surgery Dr Tomoaki Kato is a Japanese surgeon who specialises in ex vivo surgeries – operating outside the body. He was the only surgeon who agreed to help seven-year-old Heather McNamara with her tumour that was deemed unresectable, given its close proximity to major organs. In an operation lasting 23 hours, Kato tied off an incredible number of blood vessels, and temporarily removed six major organs from Heather’s abdomen, placing them in an icy solution. Then, three groups of surgeons worked to resect the tumour. Although such radical surgeries usually do too much damage, McNamara survived the operation and is doing well. “I was just so happy to be better and cancer-free,” she said.


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