Sometimes, heroes wear flip flops and lie on he hospital floor. Credits: Fujian Medical University Union Hospital.

Here, we see two surgeons lying down on the floor after 32 hours of brain surgery, during which they only took small breaks. Helped by another surgeon, six anesthesiologists, and eight nurses, they managed to successfully remove a series of brain tumors from a patient. The pinnacle of medical skill pushed well and beyond the normal human limit: lying exhausted on the floor, but still holding a victory sign.

The marathon procedure was mandatory, because as one of the surgeons, Dr. Chen Jianping, explains, all the tumors needed to be removed in one go.

“The patient had both an aneurysm and brain-stem hemangioblastoma. We needed to remove both tumors in one surgery. This required six different surgical procedures to be conducted on the patient. It can be difficult, risky, and time-consuming. If you are removing one tumor, and the other one breaks, it can be fatal.”

Each of the three surgeons just took two one-hour breaks during the gruesome 32 hours, pushing themselves to the point where hospital staff, as well as the patient’s family, were worried they just wouldn’t make it. But they did.

“The surgery went on for so long, I started to wonder about the doctors’ physical strength. What if they wear out?” Huang Baoqin, one of the patient’s family members, said.

There’s an unparalleled heroism to that image. The image of doctors giving all they’ve got and more to save a patient. Not just the two in the image, but all doctors who give their best in the noblest of pursuits deserve the utmost praise, and we’re happy to contribute to it.

“It isn’t only me who works hard to treat patients. There so many surgeons just like me who are not seen,” said Chen Jianping.

This isn’t the first photo of exhausted but victorious doctors that stir emotions across the world. In 1987, Polish doctor Zbigniew Religa was photographed keeping watch over a patient’s vital signs after a heart transplant that lasted 23 hours. As a bittersweet triumph to his ability, that patient is still alive today — although Religa’s heart has long stopped beating.

Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!

Like us on Facebook

Your opinion matters -- voice it in the comments below!