Medical expert commissions from different countries have been coming to Brazil for several decades. They want to study a local phenomenon i.e. the village healers, who many consider charlatans. These healers are able to perform most complex surgery with a common knife, sometimes rusty, without using anesthetics.
"Close your eyes. Can you feel anything?"
"I do not know, something strange is going on."
"What exactly can you feel?"
"It feels like. somebody is touching my skin with a red-hot wire."
"Does it hurt?"
"No. It’s a strange sensation. Just like a piece of ice burning in cold flames."
Yet another time the man in a white shirt sticks his knife deep in the belly of an American football coach called Hutt who is standing (!) before him. The man puts his hand into the wound to take out something pulsating.
The American keeps his eyes closed, his lips are moving in silence. It is an open cut, but there is no blood. It should be gushing out but it is not.
The patient made no sound as the man put a few stitches over the wound using a black thread. Then the man in white said: "Lay down for awhile. I will try to remove the stitches in two days."
Hutt walks away from the room wobbling like a drunk. The next patient is a woman who says her eye hurts. She sits down in an armchair. Then the man in white drives a knitting needle into the corner of her eye.
Once the needle is half the way through, he starts to stir it like a spoon, as if he is trying to fish something from the inside. The sight is nauseating to me so I step outside to get some fresh air.
Medical expert commissions from different countries have been continually coming to Brazil for the last fifty years. They wanted to study a local phenomenon i.e. the village healers.
The healers are known for the ability to perform most complex surgery with a common knife (normally of a kitchen variety) without using any anesthetics. Their patients feel no pain, and they can go home two or three hours after the operation.
Zé Arigó, an illiterate medic, was the first one who made headlines in 1958. He used a pen knife for cutting out a malignant tumor. His patient happened to be the president’s daughter. The operation stirred up quite a fuss. Crowds of potential patients gathered around his house on the following day.
Arigó became the media’s darling. TV crews and photographers documented dozens of operations performed by the healer. All his patients claimed they felt no pain.
President Kubitschek wished to thank Arigó for saving his daughter. As a gesture of gratitude, he legalized the healing business.
More healers came to light in various parts of Brazil. One Pacita (her real name was Barbara Salas) enjoyed great popularity. She operated on her patients by using a big rusty machete.
Neither Arigó nor Salas washed their hands before making an incision or two. However, none of the patients was diagnosed with blood contamination or other infectious disease afterwards.
A special commission of U.S. doctors (headed by Prof. Henry Puharich) conducted a detailed study of the work of the two healers. The Americans painstakingly filmed the procedures. The head of the commission underwent an operation.
Nowadays a few dozen people in Brazil are involved in the healing business. Most of them perform most popular painless operations. Some use a knife, others prefer a scalpel, and one female healer uses a sharply pointed tip of her thumb nail.
This article appeared originally in Pravda – www.pravda.ru.