In what is perhaps one of the most intrepid deliveries ever performed, Mexican mother Ines Ramirez Perez performed a Caesarean section on herself on this day in 2000.
One early March evening, Ramirez found herself alone in her one-room cabin high in the mountains of Rio Talea in southern Mexico when the pains of childbirth began. It was dark outside, the cabin had no phone, the nearest clinic was 80 kilometres away over rough roads, and Ramirez’s husband–her only assistant during her previous eight deliveries–was away at a cantina, drinking. Three years earlier, Ramirez had given birth to a dead baby girl and she was determined this unborn child would survive.
Finally, at midnight, after 12 long hours of continuous pain, the petite, 40-year-old mother decided to take matters into her own hands. She took several swigs from a bottle of hard liquor, sat down on a low wooden bench, grabbed a 15-centimetre-long kitchen knife and by the light of a single dim bulb, began to cut open her belly. Taking three attempts in about an hour’s time, Ramirez sawed through flesh, fat, and muscle to make a 17-centimetre-long vertical incision, from the bottom of her ribs to her pubic area, to the right of her navel. She then reached inside her own uterus and pulled out a baby boy. Ramirez cut his umbilical cord with a pair of scissors and the exhausted mama promptly passed out.
Describing her experience, Ramírez said, “I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. If my baby was going to die, then I decided I would have to die, too. But if he was going to grow up, I was going to see him grow up, and I was going to be with my child. I thought that God would save both our lives.”
When she regained consciousness, Ramirez bandaged her wound with spare clothing and sent her then six-year-old son, Benito, to get help. Several hours later two village health assistants found Ramirez awake and alert and proceeded to sew her wound. They took mother and baby first to a local clinic, then to the nearest hospital, eight hours away by car, where Ramirez underwent surgery to repair the incision site. A week later, she had another surgery to repair complications arising from damage to her intestines made during her C-section. She was later released from the hospital and made a full recovery.
Ramirez is believed to be the only person in the world to have performed a Caesarean on herself. Her case was so extraordinary that it was reported in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.