The Man Who Removed His Own Bladder Stone
The Man Who Removed His Own Bladder Stone

The Man Who Removed His Own Bladder Stone

Stephanie Schoppert - October 13, 2016

In 1651, Jan de Doot was suffering from a bladder stone. He was a Dutch blacksmith who had a history of bladder problems and he had already had two stones cut from his bladder previously by stone cutters. The experience with the stone cutters was bad enough that he decided anything was better than going back to one. It was at that moment the pain was unbearable and he was faced with going to a stone cutter or resorting to more drastic measures. He decided that he would be the only man to cut into his flesh and made arrangements to perform the surgery on his own.

He sent his wife to the fish market and called over his brother to help him. He told his brother to pull his scrotum aside so that he could grab the very large stone in his left hand. With his right hand he cut into the perineum. Then he did squats to get the wound to open up enough for the stone to fit through. Reaching two fingers into the wound he was able to reach around the large bladder stone and popped the stone out, tearing his bladder in the process. The stone fell to the ground and only then was Jan de Doot willing to get help from a healer.

He told his brother to run for the healer who then stitched up the wound and bound it up tightly. The operation proved to be successful and Jan de Doot was believed to have lived at least 5 years after the ordeal. His story is told in a book entitled Observationes medicae written in 1672 which details 230 medical cases. The stone was 4 ounces in weight and was the size of a hen’s egg.

But perhaps the strangest part of the story is what Jan de Doot did with the stone and what historians think really happened. Keep reading to find out!

The Man Who Removed His Own Bladder Stone

The Dutch were enthralled with the story of what Jan de Doot had done. Jan de Doot was also pretty impressed with himself and the story goes that he had the stone set in gold so that he could keep it and show others who wished to know his story. In 1655 he was painted by Carel van Savoyen and in the portrait he is holding the stone and the knife that he used for the procedure. This painting now hangs in the Portrait Collection of the Laboratory of Pathology at the University of Leiden.

Some doubt that the story happened exactly the way that Jan de Doot tells it. Even Observationes medicae suggests that ulcers would have formed and that it was remarkable that he was able to get the stone out with one hand and without the proper tools. In 1969 LJT Murphy wrote that it was unlikely the stone would have been so easy for de Doot to remove from the bladder. Instead he suggests that it is possible the stone may have come through the previous incisions that had been made (to remove the two previous stones) and was able to get into the subcutaneous tissue. If the stone had made it to the subcutaneous tissue it would have been easier for de Doot to cut it out with a knife and remove with his fingers.

Bladder stones are typically much smaller and are caused by an inability to empty the bladder completely. An enlarged prostate or damaged nerves can cause the bladder to not empty all the way. The urine that is left in the bladder starts to crystallize and turn to hardened stones. For the condition to be recurring in Jan de Doot it is very possible that he had an enlarged prostate or an untreated urinary tract infection that was causing inflammation.

Whatever the cause, Jan de Doot probably had a lot of explaining to do when his wife got back from the fish market.