All my forefathers were peasants. I was born on December 6, 1913. My mother was midwife in a northern Russian village, not far away from the town of Cherepovets. My father went off for a war in 1914 and when he came back, he soon left his family. We lived very poorly: my mother never accepted gifts from her patients. She served as an example to me all my life. My grandmother taught me to pray, the farming - to work, and loneliness - to read books. When I became a young pioneer, I ceased to believe in God and learned about socialism (However, my party career was reduced only to the young pioneer organization - I never entered neither Komsomol or any other party). From my childhood I got to know the life of a northern Russian village. Since 12 to 18 years of age I went to school in Cherepovets, then I studied at a mechanical vocational college, after graduation of which I became a mechanical engineer. My life was poor and lonely. I missed home, read a lot of classical literature.
In autumn 1932 I began to work in the city of Arkhangelsk as a shift master at the power station by a large saw-mill, a new building project of the first five-year plan. I worked well. In 1934 I married Galya Soboleva and began to study by correspondence at the Industrial Institute. At the same year my mother died.
In 1935 together with my wife I entered the Arkhangelsk Medical College. Within the first year of study I managed to learn the program of two years. All the time I gave private lessons. I made the good acquaintance of Vadim E.Lashkarev, an exiled professor of physics. He opened for me the world of parapsychology. In 1939 I graduated the college and obtained a distinction. I wished to further devote myself to physiology but had to learn surgery at the post-graduate course.
At the same time I went on with my study by correspondence at the Industrial Institute. I chose for my diploma the project of a large aeroplane with a steam turbine. I spent a lot of my time, developing this project and hoped that it would be admitted to production, but it was not. Instead, in 1940 I obtained a distinction engineer diploma.
In the meantime, I was not satisfied with my post-graduate course, my love was over, I was bored with my family life without children. We discussed the situation with Galya and decided to live separately for a while.
I left Arkhangelsk and became employed as a surgeon in a hospital my native Cherepovets. I had learned to perform ordinary operations in abdominal cavity. My interest in physiology developed into reflections on thinking mechanisms, on interaction of constitution regulative systems. The notebooks with my "ideas" I keep up to now.
My political convictions were formed: I acknowledged socialism, but my attitude towards communist leadership was bad and I did not want to go to the Army. Evidently, I was influenced by the bitter experience of my family: my mother's brother and sister perished in concentration camps.
On June 22, 1941 the Patriotic War began. I worked in mobilization comission and soon was appointed a leading surgeon in Field Mobile Hospital ("PPG-2266 on horse traction").
In this hospital I served in the same position during the whole war with Germany and Japan.
This field hospital was supposed to accommodate 200 wounded men. Its overall staff consisted of 80 people, among them 5 doctors plus, 22 horses.
War events I would describe in brief. In the summer and autumn of 1941 we treated light-wounded men in Sukhinichi. In October, the Germans broke through the front line and we retreated behind Moscow in the town of Egorievsk. There I experienced my first defeat: a wounded man died of gas-gangrene because of my own mistake.
I made the acquaintance of A.A.Bocharov, the chief surgeon of hospitals (Our frienship continued up to his death in 1970).
In December 1941 our offensive by Moscow started. The hospital worked at the rear of front - in Podolsk and then in Kaluga. Our staff got enlarged, we were given a larger premises and a number of beds reached 500.We had to work very hard: there were a lot of heavy-wounded men. Basic problems: gas-gangrene (amputations were performed), joint wounds and thigh fractures, which were treated with plasters. There were a lot of deaths and nervous shocks. Then I elaborated my own operation methods, reducing the death-rate. I wrote my first dissertation and presented it to the Moscow Medical Institute. I had never seen any dissertation before.
In January 1943 we got an order to reduce the hospital to 200 beds and to move to Briansk front, to 48 Army.
The villiage Ugolnaya, cut by a snowstorm from a highway became our first trial. About six hundred wounded men were laid up in cold peasant houses waiting for some medical treatment. Our five doctors hardly examined them, trying to avoid blooding or gas-gangrene and to have time to send them in a sledge to the dressing tent. The death-rate was high. We were all very depressed.
During all that year our PPG followed after the attacking troops. The working conditions were very hard: we had to perform operations in tents (villiages were demolished), without electric ligh, working practically without rest.
Gradually, we adjusted ourselved to those conditions: had learned to sort, to dress, to operate, to treat and to evacuate wounded men. The majority of wounded men were brought from the front line by passing trucks and we sent them to "second-line hospitals" towards railway to transport them to the home front.
So was going on till the end of 1943. Our hospital was located at the large Ukrainian village Khorobichi, near the railway station. Frozen wounded men were brought from the front line 100 km away from the hospital with the colums of open trucks, returning from the front line. We accommodated only the severe wounded-men and those who was able to move were sent to another hospital, located at the neighbouring villiage. When a hospital train came, we were in charged of 2300 wounded-men who were accommodated in the neighbouring school and in about 400 peasants houses. The local peasant-women helped a lot to our temporary hospital attendants from the light-wounded, whom we detained for the period of their treatment. We have organized our work in Khorobichi very well: sorting of wounded by the first examination, doctors' rounds and bandaging at home, prompt delivery to operation departments. This helped us to avoid (almost avoid!) deaths caused by "missed" bloodings and acute infections. Starting from December, hospital trains operated more or less regularly and we sent almost all wounded-men to the home front.
The year 1944 went on relatively slightly. We met it in the Buda villiage, near Gomel. We located our hospital at the restored villiage school and got about five hundred beds together, including hospital tents. Hospital trains operated regularly and we experienced no difficulties by the evacuation.
There, one event happened: I married our operating dresser Lida Denisenko. She volunteerd to the war after the third year of study at pedagogical college and served at the medical and sanitary battalion. In autumn 1941 her division was encircled and Lida with a group of soldiers had been rambling through forests for a month. Partisans helped them to cross the front-line. From Moscow she was sent to us. She was an excellent dresser and a pretty girl. Our romance lasted out for half a year till we married in the town of Rechitsa. Still before our marriage I got a letter from Galya: she was serving at the North Navy, she married and was expecting a child.
In Buda I got a message from Moscow, that my dissertation was received unfavorable comments: so far, my research was not a success.
We met our troops summer break-through in the town of Pirevichi. There were not plenty of wounded-men. The troops moved fast forward and we managed to catch up with the front only in autumn in Poland. After some removals, accompanied by hard work, we approached the Eastern Prussia's frontier.
We met the new 1945 in forest, in earth-houses. On January 15, the last offensive for Germany started. The German defense was quickly broken through; we received about two hundred wounded-men, dressed them, put plasters and send them away.
A few times we crossed the territory of Eastern Prussia, mostly not working. The conditions were excellent: all Germans left the country, towns and villages were empty, there was plenty of household equipment ("captured material").
In the town of Elbing we met the Victory Day, having 18 heavy wounded.
We were awarded with war medals and decorations in the army headquarters; had been waiting for a month for determination of our further destiny, then we handed over our horses, entrained and went home. However, when we crossed Volga, our hopes for demobilization wasted away. We saw military echelons moving continuously eastwards and everybody talked about the coming war with Japan. After a month journey through the whole Russia, we detrained in Coastal Region. Shortly after, I found Bocharov, who served as the head surgeon of the Army arrived from the West, as well as ours.
In August the war was declared. We received about ten lightly- wounded at the frontier and moved to Manchuria. But then, the Americans dropped nuclear bombs and Japan had capitulated. After some marches, we placed our hospital at the town of Boli and even received some wounded- men after a short battle with Japanese-soldiers-self-murderers.
In September we were transferred to Vladivostok region. Here, within a month, the hospital was disbanded: first the hospital attendants left, then staff nurses and female-doctors.
Thus, the glorious way of PPG-2266 had ended.
During the war-years I grew into an experienced surgeon, able to perform operations on any part of human body. I especially succeed in treating breast wounds and thigh fractures. Unfortunately, overworking, continuous leaving for another places and the need to evacuate wounded- men did not permit to put the matter to an end to get full satisfaction.
I have kept all my notices and reports of the war period. From fresh memory, being still in the Far East, I wrote some research works, my second dissertation, and thirty years later-my memoirs: "PPG-2266".
We had to do with more than forty thousand wounded-men. Almost half of them were heavy-and seriously wounded: bones injuries, penetrative breast,-abdomen and skull wounds. More than seven hundred of them died: enormous cemetery, provided, all graves would have been put together. There were graves of those, who died because of my own mistakes.
My opinion on war
Disgraceful begin of the war laid on the conscience of Stalin and his general stab, headed by Zhukov. It was enough forces in 1941 to organize all-round defense: but there were no organization . Further, in the course of war, the victories of Russians were won with enormous losses, 3-4 times exceeding the casualties of Germans. It could not be excused, because, after 1942 the cause of war had been already predetermined: we produced a few times more weapons than Germany, allies helped us and we still possessed manpower. Undoubted Party achievement was organization of home front: evacuation of plants to the east of the country and steady raising of the rate of production. Soldiers and officers performed their feat of arms. The citizens at the home front worked also excellent. In general, the war had consolidated the people and allowed for some time even to forget about former mass repressions. But soon we were reminded on it. All our former prisoners of war were send to concentration camps.
After the PPG-2266 had been disbanded, me and Lida were sent to another hospital and again we happened to be in Manchuria and treated typhus-ill Japanese in a camp for war-prisoners. There we met the new 1946, but already in February Bocharov recalled me and appointed me as an attending physician to the District hospital. At that time I met Kirill Simonjan - we were friends with him till his death.
A young male doctor was able to leave army, stationed in the Far East only through good connections. When in summer 1946, we went to our vocations to Moscow, Bocharov gave me a letter to the academician S.Yudin, requesting for a help. Yudin refused to help me. But I was saved by the minister of medical industry thanks to my engineering diploma. He addressed my military authorities with a request, to let me leave the army for the ministry. It turned out efficacious. Then Yudin promised to help me get a job at the Sklifosofskiy Institute. To settle retiring formalities I had to go again to the Far East. There, in expectation of retirement I wrote one more (already my third) dissertation about knee-joint wounds.
Lida was reinstated in the teacher's training college and I was appointed by Yudin to manage an operating department: there was a lot of standing equipment: problem to solve for an engineer. I got the ration and food cards at the military registration and enlistment office. We rented a room of 4 m2 large.
But we stayed in Moscow only till March, 1947. I did not like my job: technical equipment was of no interest for me and I was not involved in operating.
I was bored to watch another surgeons performing operations. Without surgery Moscow was of no attraction for me. I decided to leave the city.
Our former head staff nurse from Briansk L.Bukova helped me to find another job. I was appointed as the chief regional surgeon and a department head of the regional hospital. I could have hardly dreamed on such a position!
Briansk. Six years there have gone like in a fairy-tale. Excellent job, excellent people: I was supported by the doctors, former medical officer- surgeons, as well as by the hospital management. But work was the main thing. I performed quiet a number of new surgeries: on stomach,-gullet, kidney, etc. But the most important was lung resections in case of abscess, cancer and tuberculosis. I had never observed them before. I developed my own surgery system and within four years I had operated more people than other surgeons in the Soviet Union.
The work in province together with regional surgeons was also very interesting: I had to control and to teach. I made a lot of business trips, carried out conferences, performed demonstrative surgeries. I had gained authority, though initially I was indecently young for such position.
I defended my thesis (the third one) in 1948 in Gorkiy. A year later I chose the subject for my doctor's thesis "Lung resection by tuberculosis". I used to perform a lot of surgeries and in 1952 my doctor's thesis was ready. After listening to my report at the Chest Surgery Conference in Moscow, the academician Bakulev had approved my work.
Lida worked as a senior dresser and graduated the teacher's training college by correspondence. However, she was not going to work as a teacher. She used to say: "I would like to be a surgeon!"
Now I came across Kiev: I made a report at the Tuberculosis Institute and performed some demonstrative surgeries. The director A.C.Mamolat invited me to work together, the minister promised to open one more department at the disabled veteran's hospital.
I hated to leave Briansk! But what should I do? My wife entered the Kiev Medical College. There were no chances for me to obtain quick promotion in Briansk region. I took a decision and in November 1952 we moved to Kiev.
Kiev. At first, I disliked everything: my flat - one room; surgery was poor, very few patients, assistants were lazy. I felt miserable here, used to go to Briansk to perform surgery. But step by step my problems got settled. In 1953 I defended my doctor's thesis. I was elected to a chair at the Medical Institute, though not by a total majority of votes. There was a new clinic, complicated patients, speeches at the surgeon society. Two of my assistants came from Briansk. My living conditions were improved. The work started to progress.
In January 1955, I made a report on lung surgery at the congress in Moscow: it was a success. Then I began to perform simple heart surgeries. Lida studied normally.
I made my reports at the congresses in Rumania and Chechoslovakia.
In 1956 one event occurred: my daughter Katya was born. Lida's pregnancy proceeded with complications, therefore Cesarean section was performed. Before, in twenty years of my family life I had never felt a need for children. Lida insisted to have a child. But when I first saw this tiny, red, fragile creature, I realized: my freedom had ended, I would never run away. No sirens would ever succeed in seducing me.
That year we were provided with a three-room flat, the first flat in my life equipped with a bathroom and a toilet.
In 1958 Lida graduated the medical institute. Her dream to become a surgeon had fulfilled, she performed even lung surgeries. Unfortunately, seven years later her mother got cerebral haemorrhage, and was paralysed for three years. Lida would have to nurse her and had to take more easier work-physiotherapy.
The year 1957 was of great importance: in January the clinic moved to a new two-storied building and in autumn I went to the surgeons' congress in Mexico. There I watched a heart surgery with ABCS (artificial blood circulation system) and became very enthusiastic about it. Since it was impossible to purchase this system, I developed a similar system of my own design - it was manufactured at the factory-at last my engineering knowledge proved useful. A year later, the experiments on dogs were carried out and by the end of the year we tested the system on one patient, whose heart stopped during an ordinary surgery. The patient died. After that, we experimented with it one more year. In 1959 a boy with an inborn heart disease, so-called "Fallo's pad" was successfully operated.
Starting from 1958, our " cybernetics" began. First, it was a laboratory for working through ABCS -surgeries, then physiological heart investigations were added, involving engineers and mathematicians. A special department was organized at the Institute of Cybernetics where a team of enthusiasts worked
Within the next decade there were formed the following research trends, initiated still in Cherepovets: 1. Regulatory systems of organism - from blood chemistry through endocrine and nervous system to cerebral cortex. 2. Brain mechanism and Artificial Intellect (AI). 3. Psychology and personality models. 4.Sociology and society models. 5.Global problems of mankind. Every trend was investigated, their computer models were made, articles relating to the subject were published. About twenty dissertations were defended, five monographs and a lot of brochures were issued. The team had come apart in nineties, only one AI- group went on with its work and I have been on friendly terms with these people up to now.
In 1962 together with the academician Kupriyanov I went for a trip through US clinics: we became acquainted with the famous heart- surgeons, such as Liliheim, Kirklin, Blaloke and others. We watched a lot of new surgeries. Some of them have been kept in my own arsenal, others came to the sad end. In particular, when using nylon tissue in aorta valve surgery, we lost five of our eight patients. It was a real drama.
That year, the artificial valve problem was of supreme importance. The American Starr invented a ball-valve. In our laboratory we built up our own model, made of half-sphere but supplemented with a special anti- thrombus edging. It's interesting, that Mr.Starr invented the same and almost simultaneously with us.
Starting from 1962, the rise of my career began, at once in various directions. And what's funny, without any efforts from my part: I conformed sacred to Bulgakov's rule : "Never beg for anything".
I brief here my career achievements.
At the beginning of 1962 I was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences as a Corresponding Member. The president Bakulev himself proposed my candidature. Then I was awarded Lenin Prize along with four lung surgeons. The next promotion, absolutely unexpected: I was elected a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Here, how it was: I was summoned to the Regional Party Committee and told: "There is an opinion to propose you as a deputy. People would back it up." I tried to refuse carefully, in fact, I wouldn't like it, but feared to insist: the Party towered over all of us! One wouldn't allowed to work in case of losing Party's favor.
I had been a deputy for four terms. I was not burdened by sittings - 2- 3 days twice a year: sit, listen and vote unanimously. But there was one important duty: to receive people and to help them with their problems. I worked it off fair: once a week I used to receive 4-10 people, who mostly appealed to me because of their bad living conditions. I wrote applications to the authorities and strange though, but in half cases it worked. Those were painful receptions: I had heard plenty of heart-breaking human stories in addition to my surgical misfortunes. The total deputy's income amounted to 60 rubles per day, only once I went with my daughter to a seaside resort. Truth to say, I was provided with free fare, but instead I gave up my travel allowance at my institute.
To avoid further mentioning of my ranks and awards, I enumerate at once all my subsequent ones: 1969 - academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Then -three State Prizes of Ukraine: for surgery and cybernetics. When I was 60, I was given the rank of the Hero of Socialist Labor . Then I was awarded with Lenin -and October Revolution Order. Not counting, four war decorations, Honorary scientist title. So kindly treated the Party a non-party man. But I never put decorations on my jacket.
My conscience is clear: never promised, never lied, never sang the praises of communists. The same is true about my patients: I never accepted gifts and even in my clinic's hall there hung the instruction: "Please do not make any presents to the staff, except flowers". As to my selfish opposition to authorities, truth to say, I never rose in real opposition to them. Rebellious books from abroad I used to bring a great many, using my deputy immunity, but I kept them locked up.
Had I been a "soviet man"? Most likely I had still been. I never wanted to change socialism for capitalism. I envied my western colleagues with regard to their working conditions, but I never intended to leave the country. In spite of the communist leaders, our society seemed to be more human. The rights of poor people for work, pension, social insurance, medical treatment, education, almost rent-free lodging and transport seemed to be more important, than freedom of press and demonstrations against government. They are needed only to a small group of intellectuals. The real state of "the working masses" in the West I got to know much later. The revision of my political views happened already after Gorbachov's "perestroyka" (reorganization).
Writer. Once, in autumn 1962 after the death under surgery of one sick girl, I felt very bad. I wished to get drunk and to complain to somebody. I got down to describe that day. I amended my manuscript many times. Waited for an opportunity. Had my doubts. A month later, I read it first to my friend, the writer Dold-Mikhailik. Then, to my surgeon friend, later, to another person. Everybody liked it very much. So appeared "The first day" in the future book "Thoughts and Heart". Dold helped me to publish it in one magazine in Kiev. Then it appeared in "Nauka i Zhyzn" magazine. Later it was published as a book. Then, in "Roman-gazeta", etc. It was just a great success. The American writer of Russian origin Sent-George translated it into English From English the book was translated practically into all European languages. In total, it was published more than thirty times. But I was not paid well: the Union did not sign the copyright convention. Famous I became, bur rich - no.
I liked it: I still continue to write, though now not so successfully. My five books of fiction were published: "Thoughts and Heart", "Notes from Future", "PPG-2266", "The Book on Happiness and Misfortune". The last one - "Voices of Time" was published on the occasion of my 85-th anniversary. To this list one should add one more book "Thoughts on Health" - summary of my "System of Restrictions and Physical Exercises" Together with popular magazines its edition has reached seven million copies. About as many, as "Thoughts and Heart".
In summer 1963 one was shocked by terrible disaster: a chamber explosion. The 2 x1,5 m-chamber was manufactured for conducting experiments and performing surgeries in case of anoxaemia. A manufacturing plant made a gross mistake: the chamber was filled with oxygen under pressure of 2 atmospheres. Physiologists from the institute of cybernetics experimented there with dogs. Three or four times, some patients were treated there. I personally participated once in such experiment. Inside the chamber there was one electric measuring instrument. An explosive sparkle ignition had evidently taken place. Two girls-experimentalists were badly burn and died a few hours later. The case was under investigation but wouldn't taken into court.
I felt myself guilty: I committed carelessness, without going into the root of the matter. I had taken it very hard. I blame myself bitterly up to now.
Later, one more chamber was manufactured, but this time in open air. Some patients with after-surgery complications were treated there, but not very successfully.
Heart transplantation. When Bernar had performed a heart transplantation, it was a challenge for all heart-surgeons. I was fully aware of the fact, that I was not up to the world standard, but nevertheless, I decided to make an attempt. Surgical technique seemed not to be very complicated. I read through relevant materials, thought everything over and we started our preparations. The basic problem was to find a donor. A beating heart by a damaged brain was needed. An order was made to the ambulance service to deliver us wounded people with severe skull injuries: we would intend to investigate a case and to take a heart for transplantation, provided a brain was dead. No problem to find a recipient: there were patients with myocarditis affection, who were expected to die soon.
A sterile ward and a small operating room were prepared. We started our experiments with dogs:we succeeded in transplanting a heart and saw it working. But not very long, only a few hours.
We found a recipient and were waiting for a donor. Two weeks later a young woman after a car accident was delivered : her heart was still working but her head was badly damaged. The encephalogram showed a straight line . The conference of neuropathologists had decided: brain was dead. The woman's relatives were found: their consent was needed. The mother was certainly crying her the husband was silent. A painful talk took place. The relatives asked us to wait: "And what , if she will not die, her heart is beating isn't it?" ABCS-system was prepared to bring the heart back to life; should it begin stopping. We had been waiting for some hours, before it became clear-it was useless. It is impossible to transplant a dying heart. I had no courage to put pressure upon the relatives. I had backed down, no more attempts were made. It was clear, I could not ever step over psychological barrier.
The Academy constructed a new apartment house, honorable academicians moved there, and we were provided with a flat in an old house: 85 meters, four rooms with high ceiling. We renovated the flat, purchased furniture, book shelves. I put all books from entresol (they amounted to 6-7 thousands) and arranged them in my room; on the vacant wall I put two paintings and the room turned into an intellectual professor's study. Up to now I like it.
In 1970 Katya entered the medical institute,at the age of 15 years: she managed to pass in one tear the exams for three school years of study.
The love for my daughter was the strongest feeling of my life. I brought her up by the following scientific approach: at the age of three years, she learned to read, from the age of four began to learn English. Visiting of theatres, museums, exhibitions, trips to Moscow, Leningrad, even to Germany. But the most important: heart-to-heart talks and love.
Not everything went off smoothly: after her first college year, Katya got nervous exhaustion.
Moscow doctors nearly cured her to death with psychotropic means. I cut it in, took her back home, canceled everything and took her as a nurse- dresser to my clinic. Katya had straightened herself up, but lost one year.
I list here the most important about Katya. She married in her last year of study, obtained a distinction diploma, made post-graduate therapeutics course, defended her Ph.D. thesis, then, at the age of 33 - thesis for a Doctor's degree. She born a daughter, Aniyuta, got a chair, wrote four books and plenty of articles, trained about twenty candidates for a degree. The last event: in 2000 she was elected a Corresponding Member of the Medical Academy. Her husband is a professor of surgery. So is my daughter like that. I am proud of her.
In the same 1970 year one more event happened. Lida got a dog, doberman pincher, a bitch, three months old. We called it Chury. I did not need a dog. Lida got it for herself. However, I had to go for a walk with the dog and it became like a close friend for me. In its ninth year of life it became first pregnant, couldn't be delivered, I performed surgery at home, the puppies were dead. The dog had died of pneumonia. For three days we nursed her. We took it very hard. And immediately after, we got a similar dog, Chury, the Second. It lived for ten years. We also were very fond of it. The dog had died of cancer and suffered a lot. We never again dared to take another dog: too much sufferings when they die of.
Chury induced me to jog, to reasonably use the walking time.
Physical training for me is one of the life basics. I have to tell one story. In my early childhood I grew up alone and had no "program" of physical training. The manual labour made me stronger, but not adroit: I was not taught to swim, dance or ride bicycle. I used to run away from physical training classes both in my school and in my college. But I have always been in good health. In the war, I first went through radiculitis seizure, which was recurred again and again, evidently, due to long operation procedures. In 1954 it became entirely bad: X-ray photography showed dorsal changes. Then I developed my physical training system: 10 exercises per 100 movements each. It helped. Thanks to Chury, my morning jogging was added. The system was also supplemented by food restrictions: I strictly kept my weight of no more than 54 kg. I thought through the health physiology and got "The regimen of restrictions and physical exercises" - the favorite subject for audience. My lecturing is to be mentioned specially. I took to public lecturing at the end of sixties. I was evidently flattered by applause and by an opportunity to talk on the verge of permissible - I hoped that my deputy status would protect me from KGB. First, I spoke in public on behalf of "Znaniye" (Knowledge) Society, and after I had become famous, I was invited everywhere: to Moscow, Leningrad, Baltics. I had visited all regions of Ukraine and used to make three lectures per day. The subjects varied from "health problems" to "socialism" and "artificial intellect". I was paid 40 rubles per one lecture, which I mostly spent for my "gentleman's needs".
My book "Thought on Health", mentioned already, was written due to my public lecturing.
New clinic. At the end of 60-s the building of our two-storied clinic became too small for us. The authorities decided to construct another more spacious building. The design project had been developed for a long time. In 1972 the construction started and in three years was finished. It was a large spacious five-storied building for 350 beds with some operating rooms and conference hall. The old building was re-equipped into policlinic, X-ray photography-department and drugstore. The medical staff of the clinic was enlarged by graduates of the medical college. By the year 1980, about 2000 surgeries were performed, among which 600 - with ABCS (artificial blood circulation system).
However, I was not pleased with the results of surgeries; I was in bad mood, though I performed surgeries every day.
In 1981 Lida purchased a decent summer cottage in a village, fifty kilometers far from the city, though I was not very enthusiastic about it. Only a year later, I joined myself to dacha life - I got fond of jogging in a forest and doing a joiner's work in my workshop. I took a suburban electric train to go to my institute.
In July 1982, I went again through mental derangement: my patients frequently died. I declared, that I would give up surgery for the whole summer and would devote myself solely to cybernetics. I had spent three months in my village house, attending regular seminars in my office.
Only starting from November, I resumed little by little my surgeries again. Gradually, everything became stabilize.
Institute. In summer 1983 the following event happened: our clinic moved away from Tuberculosis Institute and became an independent Institute for Heart Surgery. To achieve it, I had to appeal to the Central Party Committee, to Vladimir Shcherbitskiy, its General Secretary. At his urgent request I was appointed as director. I did not want to, but the matter was very important - I couldn't give it up.
Institute founding had run smoothly. I put the most important task:4000 surgeries in a year; 2000 of them - with ABCS.
In December, my 70-years jubilee was celebrated. There was held a scientific conference, a lot of guests attended. Right away, the Institute started working successfully: the number of surgeries increased.
Here, the Gorbachov's "Perestroika"and "Glasnost"(reconstruction , publicity) began. One had inhaled the fresh air of freedom. I liked it very much. I subscribed to a great number of newspapers and magazines. Speaking publicly, I did not turned back any more to the Party and KGB.
Disease. All disasters used to come unexpectedly: in summer 1985, on the background of my ordinary regimen, I began to feel a heart pain. The decease progressed and by the autumn I had a heart blokage with a pulse rate of 40 beats/ min and could not jog any more. An implantation of a pacemaker was needed but I hesitated, before I developed high blood- pressure. On the eve of the New Year, I gave my director's responsibilities to my deputy over and went to Kaunas to undergo a surgery at the doctor Y.Bredikus's clinic. Lida and Katia went with me. The pacemaker functioned perfectly and by the mid of February, 1986 I came back to my clinic: again directorship, surgeries, jogging.
The Chornobyl disaster in April 1986, my family met in our summer cottage, 50 km away from the unfortunate site. From the very beginning I thought ,that its harmful consequences were exaggerated: some writers and politicians had frightened people and the whole world. As a result, millions of people became neurotics for many years. Doctors also gave way to this psychosis.
In 1987, the country started to run experiments: an elected director, co-operative societies, councils of labour collectives. We also managed to achieve self-financing to get extra funds from the ministry for surgeries but not those due to the cost estimates. As a result, the number of surgeries with ABCS had almost doubled and equaled to about two thousands. To work became more interesting.
Meanwhile, in December 1988 my 75-th jubilee drew near. I made up my mind to leave my position as a director, but to proceed with surgeries. My send-off was very touching: I nearly cried.
A new director, G.Knyshov was elected by a secret vote. He has been still working.
Once a week I performed surgeries with ABCS. But it was already another life, a sad one.
A democratic euphoria reigned in the country - People's Deputies were freely elected.
Since 1962 till 1979 I had been a member of the Supreme Soviet and had made sure, that it served as a cover to the Party's dictatorship.
Now it seemed, everything would be differently: people would get a real power. Who, but me knew better, how it could be used. That is why, when our doctors proposed me as a candidate, I agreed. There were five candidates more, including one from the Communist Party, but I had won at the first round.
In May 1989, the First People's Deputies Congress was held: two weeks of free statements, Sacharov's speech, abolition of the Party control, the first demarche of Baltic republics, etc.
I was elected to the Supreme Soviet: one needed to be continuously in session, like in a real parliament. I had sat there for three months and had made sure, that all that empty logomachy was not for me. In Kiev I made attempts to implement my program of rendering assistance to health protection and school, but I failed again: the system turned to be the same, administrators agreed to everything, but made no efforts at all. Now, about 30-40 people used to come to a deputy during his reception hours, but that time they did not request help, as before, but demanded it. The authorities were sharply criticized by people at all public meetings. It fell to a deputy's share as well.
In autumn, on my request, the Moscow doctors helped me to free myself from the parliament: arrhythmia was found. But I still had to attend sessions and to receive my voters. I grew sad. But there remained nothing to do.
Nevertheless, my staying in Moscow was not useless: due to membership in the Supreme Soviet , I got an access to statistical materials and forbidden books. I had carried out three sociological investigations through newspapers, got to know about state of public opinion. I published a few articles in newspapers and magazines about that investigation.
The most important thing: I revised my convictions and made sure that socialism was less efficient than capitalism. Private property, market and democracy were necessary for steady progress of society. Not only rich people, but with time, also poor ones would gain benefit by it.
Further, there occurred the events of 1991-1992 years: defeat of the putsch in Moscow, collapse of the Soviet Union. The Supreme Soviet stopped operating, Gorbachov had to resign.
I welcomed the declaration of independence of Ukraine. Since there is the people, there is the language, there should be the state. New era seemed to come.
Unfortunately, the hopes for prosperity of both Ukraine and Russia had not justified. Party heads took possession of democratic power and state property and the whole society was seized by a cruel crisis. The production was twice reduced, one half of the population grew poor, social welfare was sharply cut down because of the lack of budget funds. Corruption spread and criminality increased. The people got disappointed by democracy.
In 1992, I summed up my philosophical thoughts and wrote an article "My World Outlook". It appeared in some publications. Up to now I have still extending and improving this work: books and brochures have been published.
At that very year, my surgery had ended. Two months after one of my surgeries, the patient died because of some infection, and I realized, that it was not good to perform heart surgeries, when one was about 80. I still continued to attend the institute once a week.
In autumn 1993, my pacemaker failed to operate and it was replaced for a new one. In December, my eighty years anniversary was celebrated. I was awarded again with an order.
Soon after my jubilee, I realized, that it became harder for me to walk, though I continued my usual physical exercises: 1000 movements and 2 km jogging. I started feeling like I was aging. Then I decided to make an experiment: I three times increased my physical exercises. The Substantiation: genetic aging used to lower motivation for effort and capacity for work, muscles got detrained, it reduced mobility, thereby aggravating aging. To tear up a vicious circle, one had to make oneself to move a lot. Exactly that I have done: 3000 movements of physical exercises, one-half of which were dumb-bell exercises, plus, 5 km jogging. After half a year of such regimen, I looked ten years younger. I was aware of my decreased aorta activity, but I paid no attention to it, while my heart did not prevent my physical exercises.
For 2,5-3 years I was happy with such regimen. Then I developed stenocardia. My heart got considerably enlarged. It was clear, that my heart disease grew progressively worse. I gave up jogging and dumb-bells, reduced my physical exercises. But I continued to work with my computer, as before: I wrote two books and some articles.
In 1997, together with the Fund of Boris Malinovskiy, the Correspondent Member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the extensive sociological investigation was carried out through Ukrainian newspapers. We received 10,000 forms. V.Bigdan and T.Malashok worked them up. Basic conclusions: people lived in misery, were dissatisfied with authorities; old people were eager to restore socialism, young generation- to go further with reforms. The same split was observed as to the orientation of Ukraine toward Russia or West. The results of studies were published but did not arouse polemics.
In winter 1998, my heart decease became very critical. I hardly walked. Though, I worked with my computer and finished my memoirs "Voices of Time".
At the beginning of May, Tolya Rudenko, my former colleague at the institute made agreement with the professor Korfer from Germany, that he would perform a surgery on me. That trip was organized by Katya and Knyshov, the institute director. The city administration agreed to pay expenses.
After the decision was taken, I lost my will to live, my health had become worse and I became aware of forthcoming dearth. I felt no fear: all my life-work was done.
On May 26, Katya, Tolya and me came to Reiner Korfer's clinic in Bad Oeynhausen near Hannover.
The checkup confirmed the drastic narrowing of my aorta valve and affection of my coronary arteries. On May 29, professor Korfer had implanted me an artificial biological valve and put two coronary shunts. I was told, that the valve had five years guarantee. There were some complications after the surgery, but in general it was a success.
Three weeks later, we came back home. My heart did not perturb me, but my weakness and some complications had kept me indoors for another two months. I resumed my light physical exercises the next day after my return home. In autumn, I fully restored my 1000 movements and walking. But I gave up jogging and dumb-bells. "The experiment was over", was written in the afterword to my memoirs. The book was published on the eve of my 85-th birthday. There were again a lot of congratulations and even a new computer was presented to me.
The aging again was catching up with me: though my heart did not bother me, I walked bad . Therefore, I decided to go on with my experiment. I increased my physical exercises up to 3000 movements, half of which were made with the dumb-bells. I started jogging, first, carefully, then more and more till I reached my "starting time" - 45 minutes.
And again, as before, the aging receded. I walk well again, though my step is unstable, when going upstairs. My heart has decreased and reached the size, which it had in 1994. There is no stenocardia and I breathe easy. I live an active life: I have attention of people, give interviews, write articles, got switched to Internet.
I research: improve my "World Outlook", consider self-organization processes in biological and social systems, thinking mechanisms, models of society, future of mankind. In my work I am motivated by curiosity and a bit of vanity.
I know, that my well-being is unstable, soon my pacemaker is to be replaced, and then, perhaps, the valve, as well But I am not afraid of death, I remember my indifference to life before the surgery.
In May, me savoir, professor Korfer, came to Kiev for a conference. We received him at home, I told him about my experiment, showed my dumb-bells.He laughed at it, but did not forbid my exercises and even promised to perform a surgery in any age, provided the valve would give up.
So my life has passed. What was of the basic importance in it? Most likely - surgery. I performed gullet,-lungs and heart surgeries under the threat of near death and often, under such conditions, when nobody else could have performed them; I personally saved thousands of lives. I worked honestly. Did not accepted money. Certainly, I used to make mistakes, sometimes they were followed by death of patients, but they never had been caused by my thoughtlessness or carelessness. I had trained dozens of surgeons, had founded the clinic, then the institute, where more than eighty thousand heart surgeries were performed. And before, there were thousands of patients with other diseases, not to mention wounded men in the war.
Surgery was both, my cross and my fortune.
All my other lines of work were not so effective. Except that popularization of my "Regimen of Restrictions and Physical Exercises" was of use for people. My book "Thought About Health" was sold out in millions of copies. The same is true about the story "Thoughts and Heart", which had been translated into thirty languages. Most likely, for it was also about surgery and about suffering.
Cybernetics served only to satisfy my curiosity, with the exception of two dozens of candidates and doctors of science, trained by me.
My articles and lectures were a success and they flattered my self- esteem. But my participation at the Supreme Soviet was a forced one: it served to enhancing the prestige of my clinic. It did neither harm nor benefit to people. I never acted against my conscience, never praised authorities, but at the same time, was not in opposition to them, though never like communist leaders. However, I believed in "socialism with a human face", until I made sure that this ideology was Utopian, and the system non efficient.
In my private life, I tried to be fair and to treat people kindly and they returned a favour to me. However, I would not exaggerate my virtues: I am neither a hero, nor a fighter for justice.
If it were possible to live my life once more, I would have chosen the same: surgery and further to: philosophizing upon "eternal issues" of philosophy, such as truth, intellect, human being, society, future of mankind.
Nikolay Amosov, 2001