A man and his son were in an automobile accident. The man died on the way to the hospital, but the boy was rushed into surgery. The emergency room surgeon said "I can't operate, that's my son!" How is this possible?

the surgeon was his dad.
the surgeon was't related to him.
the boy died.
the surgeon was his mother.

Does it mean 'operation' or 'a place where surgery is performed' ?

  • It refers to the process of surgery.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 2:29
  • 1
    Are you aware that this is a riddle?
    – Mick
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


"Surgery" with "into" can be read as a reference to the department in a hospital where surgery is performed, so you are basically right in your assumption. This particular puzzle is usually used as an example of gender bias, though, because so many people assume "surgeons" are men. I haven't often seen the nonsensical parts about "the boy died, because the surgeon was his mother" added to it.

Edit: I think I may have misread the four options at the bottom. Has this been converted into some kind of multiple-choice question, where the correct option is clearly that the surgeon is his mother?


It simply means that the boy was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery in a very hurried way,

or as you like to say: 'a place where surgery is performed'

  • -1 That's not what it means. It refers to a process, not a place.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 4:37
  • The bold words are my actual explanation. I did not mean that it is a place, just try to quote the words asked in the question for more easier understanding. Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 8:03
  • And then you paraphrase them with the same meaning.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 14:08

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