Dr Karan Raj is a familiar face on TikTok who regularly posts informative videos on the app, covering everything from good sleep tips to bizarre medical facts. The NHS doctor has gathered more than 4 million followers on TikTok, thanks to his life saving detailed videos informing the public on various medical issues. However, his recent video has blown peoples’ minds as he explains why one needs to have compulsory appendix removal surgery to live in the remote town of Villas Las Estrellas in Antarctica.
The reason behind this bizarre condition is rather sensible, as he explained in his video that the necessary precaution is taken because the nearest hospital is almost 1,000 kilometers away and the medical facilities available in the town are basic. As a result, people who plan to stay in the town, including children, have to essentially go under the knife because there are no surgeons in the town as well. According to a report by BBC in 2018, while there are doctors available in the military and research base, none of them is a specialist surgeon who could operate on appendicitis. Hence, the precaution.
In case is one’s appendix bursts it would likely lead to death unless one is willing to perform the complex surgery themselves. Weather conditions are so harsh in the town that temperature dips as low as -47C in the winters and people are advised to stay indoors to not risk death. It is mostly during the winters that people live on the island founded in 1984 during the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet. With fewer than 200 summer population and a winter population of 50, everyday life is a constant struggle on the tiny hamlet. The President Eduardo Frei Montalva military base includes a school, library, post office, radio station, supermarket and bank.
In a 2016 report by New York Times, Jose Luis Carillan, a 40-year-old who moved there in 2013 with his wife and two children, reveals the challenges one has to face every day. Luis, a teacher in the public school, told them they have to trek through harsh wind storms to reach the school.
Other problems to be faced are- a limited amount of sunlight, ban on dogs to avoid the introduction of diseases to indigenous wildlife, rare availability of fresh vegetables and imbalance in sex ratio.