Meet Dr Fruit: the Chinese surgeon who goes to grape lengths to promote precision surgery

Martin Choi
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Meet Dr Fruit: the Chinese surgeon who goes to grape lengths to promote precision surgery

A Chinese surgeon has become an online media sensation by posting videos of himself performing mock operations on pieces of fruit to raise awareness of the importance of precision surgery.

Wang Yexiao, 31, who lives in China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province, originally started making short videos of his “fruit surgeries” to entertain his two-year-old son, and any other children who might watch them.

But recognising he had an opportunity to educate the public about the precision demanded by his profession, he now regularly posts these unusual slices of surgical skill on Beijing-based video-sharing platform Kuaishou.

“I originally shot the videos for my baby to pique his interest,” Wang said. 

“I thought that other children would be interested too, so I shared them on Kuaishou and the response was quite good. As a doctor myself, I thought that these videos could have a greater meaning. I changed my handle to ‘the fruit doctor’.”

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Wang has gained more than 100,000 followers on the social media app since posting his first video four months ago – showing him removing the seed from a grape by “caesarean section”. The video of the delicate procedure drew nearly 3 million views.

In Wang’s most recent video, he uses a mango to show how to perform an appendectomy, the removal of an inflamed appendix. His other “patients” have included mangosteens, cherries, durians and bananas.

He has also performed surgery on plants and eggs.

“I started using fruit to explain some surgical operations to the general public,” Wang said.

Every surgeon needs a helper, and Wang said he had the perfect one in his wife, an English teacher who keeps things moving efficiently during the procedures.

“My wife helps me with things I can’t do while I’m operating – adjusting the lighting, positioning the fruit or using other surgical equipment,” he said.

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His most popular video – drawing more than 3 million views – shows him removing 24 seeds from a lotus root before reattaching the top.

Each film takes four to five hours to make. Wang said he usually started about 9pm after his son had gone to bed.

“It usually takes until after midnight, but I’m used to sleeping late for the night shift. I can’t fall asleep so I might as well find something to do,” he said.

Besides posting videos, he said he also hosted live-streaming sessions on Kuaishou, in which he explained medical procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and childbirth.

“Educating the general public about medical knowledge will not only allow them to protect themselves, but also the people around them,” Wang said. “I think all this will have a positive impact on doctor-patient relationships.”

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Frustration over China’s medical system has been blamed for an increase in physical assaults on medical staff by patients in recent years.

The Chinese Medical Doctor Association reported that 13 per cent of 12,600 doctors surveyed in 2015 said they had been physically assaulted the previous year.