Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 13:33 GMT
DIY surgery on the seven seas
Viktor Yazykov was sailing around the world
A round-the-world sailor performed a potentially life saving operation on himself guided only by e-mails from a doctor thousands of miles away.
Doctors say the operation - to drain an abscess - saved the sailor's arm, and possibly his life.
The sailor, Viktor Yazykov, from Russia, was able to complete a leg of an around-the-world race and arrived safely in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday, ahead of four of the other 14 competitors.
The expert advice was given by Dr Daniel Carlin, and infectious disease specialist at the New England Medical Center and physician on call for the Around Alone Race for solo yachtsmen.
Dr Carlin got an e-mail message from Yazykov which said: "My right elbow does not look good. Some yellow spot in the middle of red and it feels dead. Waiting for your help."
The next morning, when his solar-powered e-mail was back up, Yazykov wrote: "All skin is glossy and shiny white. It is like a pillow with some liquid inside."
Potentially fatal infection
He messaged him 13 steps to take in cutting into and draining the abscess with instruments Dr Carlin's organisation, World Clinic Inc., had given to the sailors.
Yazykov took too much aspirin after the surgery, which stopped his blood from clotting and left him "sitting on the bloody cabin floor almost completely naked ... watching as my life drop by drop leaving me."
But Carlin solved that problem, too, giving the sailor new instructions on how to stop the bleeding.
In his last e-mail to the doctor, Yazykov said: "The arm getting better. Very grateful to doctor."
Dr Carlin said: "In terms of administering medicine by remote control, this one has got to be right up there as one to remember."