The Associated Press arrived at the remote village of Rio Talea in the southern mountains of Mexico to confirm a story many couldn’t believe: a mother performed a caesarian section on herself with nothing more than a knife and a few gulps of rubbing alcohol.
The heroin of this story is Ines Ramirez Perez, mother of seven children, including the one she courageously saved herself. An AP reporter found her four years later, spoke with her, met her “miracle son” and got confirmation of the story from witnesses.
The extraordinary birth was reported this past March in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics in an article was co-authored by Rafael Valle, an obstetrician at Northwestern University in Chicago.
The woman’s story was known in the village and its surroundings but not in the rest of the country and the world.
On the night of March 5, 2000, Ines was alone in her cabin when the birth pains became too intense. Her seventh child was ready to be born but there was no one to help her. Her husband was drunk at the local cantina. She had no phone and neither did the cantina.The nearest clinic was more than 50 miles away and with the winding mountain roads she would not be able to get there in time. Three years earlier, she had given birth to a dead baby girl. As her labor intensified, so did her concern for this unborn child.
“So at midnight, after 12 hours of constant pain, the petite, 40-year-old mother of six sat down on a low wooden bench. She took several gulps from a bottle of rubbing alcohol, grabbed the 6-inch knife she used for butchering animals and pointed it at her belly. And then she began to cut,” the AP reports.
According to Ines, she “sawed through skin, fat and muscle before reaching inside her uterus and pulling out her baby boy. She says she cut his umbilical cord with a pair of scissors, then passed out.”
Ines Ramirez is recognized internationally now as a modern miracle. She is believed to be the only woman known to have performed a successful Caesarean section on herself.
"I couldn't stand the pain anymore," she said, four years after the event. "And 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."
The village health assistant, Leon Cruz, was the first one to arrive at the cabin. He described in detail what Dr. Honorio Galvan would later see when he received Ines and her baby at the San Pablo Huixtepec, south of Oaxaca City.
"From what we saw, it was evident this surgery was not done by anyone with medical knowledge," Galvan said. "There is no doctor or healer in the village, and it is highly doubtful that anyone would have been able to do this to her. If they had, it is such a small village, the word would have spread quickly, and we would have known. A whole village can't lie. What would they have to gain?"
Doctors rushed the mother and child into the operating room. “Galvan took photographs while his colleague, Jesus Guzman, opened Ramirez up to find that her uterus had returned to its normal size and stopped bleeding, and that she showed no signs of infection. Galvan doesn't know if Ramirez tried to sterilize the knife before she operated,” writes the AP.
Today, Orlando Ruiz Ramirez is a rambunctious, playful 4-year-old and Ines has become a modern miracle.