A French medical student is “operating” on food on TikTok — and millions have watched him.
Surgeons often practice complex procedures on fruit, but Robin Goncet added a backstory. He draws faces on them, creates a narrative, and fills their insides with the “organs” prepped for an operation. Then he produces videos in which he performs surgical operations with pinpoint precision on fruit and vegetables.
Part entertainment, part educational, Goncet’s videos earned him more than 250,000 TikTok followers and millions of views since first posting last year, at the beginning of the pandemic.
One video, which has nearly 2 million views, shows Goncet operating on an eggplant called “Timothy” to fix a testicular torsion issue. Testicular torsion is when a man’s testicle rotates on itself, resulting in the spermatic cord becoming twisted. This reduces blood flow to the scrotum and can cause serious pain and swelling.
Speaking in an interview from his home in Grenoble, France, the 24-year-old student is in his sixth year of medical studies at Grenoble University. Once he conducts his primary incision, he said he stops the video to remove the insides of the fruit and replaces them with the appropriate “organs.”
He then restarts the video and peels back the outside layer of the fruit or vegetable, so the viewer can watch the operation.
Another video shows him performing a C-section on “Marie,” a grapefruit, to deliver a baby. Goncet explains every step of the procedure. The videos appeal to both medical students and anyone who wants to study medicine.
They are also enjoyed by netizens, who comment on their entertainment value. “Not everyone has been operated on, so these videos give insights to people who know little about that world,” Goncet said.
Goncet said he never planned on a career in medicine, but when he was 15, he saw how a laboratory worked and how human blood was processed. He found it so interesting, he started studying medicine when he left high school.
TikTok posts began after a surgical rotation.
The impetus for the videos was unexpected. Goncet was taking part in a hand surgery at Grenoble Hospital. Advanced medicine students in France work in different departments in hospitals for three-month periods to gain experience and be mentored.
After the operation, he wanted to practice. Like many surgeons, he decided to “operate” on fruit. And as something to do during lockdown, he posted a video on his new TikTok account.
The response was unexpected, but “it was a nice surprise, it is fantastic,” he said.
But after his first videos became successful, he decided showing how to perform complicated surgeries or lesser-known operations was the way to go. The positive reactions surprised him, and he said he still finds it hard to realize “that millions of people have seen these.”
Edited by Fern Siegel and Matthew B. Hall
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