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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tiny Surgeon Operated During War and Peace

Surgeon Nina Alexandrovna Fyodorova was recommended to me as an excellent specialist with a "light touch." So I decided to have her operate on me. But when I first saw her, I hesitated: "She’s so small — how can she reach the operating table?" When I was wheeled into the operating room, I saw a wooden stool next to the operating table. "For Nina Alexandrovna," I thought. And I was right.

The operation went fine, and in a few days I was released. But my relationship with my doctor didn’t stop there; our families struck up a friendship that has continued to this day.

Nina Fyodorova is now 82, and, when you look at this fragile, fashionably dressed woman, it’s hard to believe that her hands are stronger than any man’s, that she is the boss in her family, just as in the operating room. The energetic Nina has the amazing ability to immediately put everything in its place and bend people to her will. In short, she’s a surgeon.

But Nina’s life hasn’t been easy. She grew up in a village near Smolensk in a family of four sisters who all went on to receive higher education. She was a second-year student at the Leningrad Medical Institute when war broke out. Like many other young women medical professionals, she volunteered to go to the front as a medic. Working in a field hospital, she experienced all the horrors of the Leningrad siege, endured all the evils of the front. For her courage, she was awarded the orders "Red Star," "Patriotic War — First Class" and "For Battle Service."

Nina graduated from the medical institute after the war, but by that time, she was already an experienced surgeon. (In the extreme conditions of war, the wounded didn’t ask to see the surgeon’s diploma.) Then she married a naval officer and traveled with him to the Far East, where she worked in a hospital that served the Port Arthur garrison and the Chinese living in the city. There she gave birth to a daughter.

In 1950, Nina’s husband was demobilized, and the family moved to Moscow. Nina started work as a surgeon in the 19th City Hospital and soon won fame as a capable, knowledgeable surgeon. She was particularly adept at operating with local anaesthetic. As she worked, Nina chattered about this and that with the patient, thus soothing him or her. On finishing the operation, she announced, "Good!" With an artistic gesture, she swabbed the fresh sutures with iodine.

Nina hasn’t operated in some time; capable as she is, the years have taken their toll. But she hasn’t totally abandoned her former work: She now works as a consultant on difficult cases and sees patients at a polyclinic. And in addition to her war medals, she has won awards for her years of service as a dedicated surgeon.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a pensioner and freelance journalist.