Zheng Yanliang, 47, saw only one way out of the excruciating pain he was suffering and it involved amputating his own leg with a hacksaw, a dull fruit knife, and a back scratcher with a towel attached it. Zheng, who lives in Baoding, a city near Beijing, was regarded locally as a “tough guy” even before he took this drastic action. According to reports, Zheng was unable to afford his medical bills after doctors discoverd a rare infection in both of his legs, so he decided to operate on himself instead.

Back in January 2012, Zheng started to experience an unbearable pain in his abdomen that eventually made its way down to his legs. Angiograms revealed that every artery in his right leg had deteriorated. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with arterial thrombosis. According to the National Health Services, arterial thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in arteries, obstructing blood flow to major organs. Obstructed blood flow to the heart can result in a heart attack, and if a blood clot forms in an artery to the brain can cause a stroke. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when blood flow to the legs is obstructed.

The level of pain Yanliang was experiencing got so bad that he was left unable to walk or even stand. Doctors told him his condition was very rare and that he probably wouldn’t live past a month. Three months later he was still alive, but the pain had reached new heights. After months of what seemed like torture, the Chinese farmer decided to take matters into his own hands. He grabbed a hacksaw, a fruit knife and a back scratcher he had wrapped with a towel, and began cutting of his own leg 15 centimeters from the hip.

Twenty minutes later his wife awoke to find her husband passed out, lying next to his severed right leg, Shanghaiist reported. On the table next to him were four molars that he had bitten off while trying to withstand the pain, as well as the hacksaw, which had snapped in half. Lucky for Yanliang, thrombosis prevented him from bleeding out. While the pain in his right leg subsided, the infection on his left side worsened. He is now enlisting the help of his community to pay for an artificial limb so he can provide for his family.