She Gave Herself a Cesarean Section

Imagine you were very pregnant and you went into labor and something went wrong and you needed a Cesarean section – as in, you needed the baby cut out of your womb through your belly. Could you do what this women did?


Who: Inés Ramírez of Rio Talea in southern Mexico
Background: In April 2002, Ramírez, who was pregnant, went into labor. She had already had several children at home, but lost her last one in childbirth. And now, once again, something was not right. After 12 hours of increasingly painful labor, 50 miles from the nearest midwife, and with no phone—or electricity or running water—Ramírez decided to do something.
Do It Yourself! Ramírez drank a few shots of liquor as an anesthetic, got a sharp knife, and made a cut low on her belly. She kept cutting—for an hour—and finally reached her womb, at which point she reached inside and pulled out a baby boy. Shortly before passing out, she sent one of her sons for help. Some hours later, a local health aide arrived and, after getting over his shock, stitched up Ms. Ramírez’s belly—using ordinary needle and thread—and then drove her to a hospital in the city of Oaxaca.
Outcome: Both the mother and child survived. It is the only known case in history of a woman successfully performing a cesarean section on herself.

Many more details here. Warning: graphic photos.

• That’s one more in our series of article excerpts from the brand new Uncle John’s 24-KARAT GOLD Bathroom Reader, this one all about people who, like Ms. Ramírez above, performed deep, intensive surgery on themselves. (Ow. Triple ow.) You can get all those stories, and hundreds more – at 30% off the usual price as part of our annual HOLIDAY SALE! Get some for the whole neighborhood!

• Past excerpts can be found here, and here.