YouTube superstar MrBeast makes the world brighter – for at least 1,000 people.
The content creator’s latest stunt is to pay for cataract removal for 1,000 people who were blind or near-blind but couldn’t afford the surgery.
“We’re curing the blindness of a thousand people,” MrBeast – real name Jimmy Donaldson – says in the Saturday video, which reached more than 32 million views by Sunday afternoon.
The video features touching before and after images of seeing patients with clear vision after completing the surgery. The YouTuber also made cash donations and other gifts to some of the attendees.
Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon, worked with Donaldson to perform the first set of surgeries in Jacksonville, Florida. Levenson coordinated the “Gift of Sight” program for more than 20 years, which provides free cataract surgery to uninsured patients who are legally blind due to cataracts.
“Half of all blindness cases in the world are people who need 10-minute surgery,” Levenson says in the video, referring to cataract removal surgery.
Levenson told CNN he was inspired to help people access cataract surgery after undergoing his own cataract correction surgery.
“In the days and weeks after my own cataract surgery, I was amazed at how bright, beautiful and alive the world was,” he said. “But I was shocked to think that there are hundreds of millions, probably 200 million people in the world who are blind or nearly blind from cataracts and don’t have access to surgery.”
Levenson received a call from a member of Donaldson’s team in September. “I had never heard of MrBeast,” he said. “So I almost hung up. But luckily I didn’t hang up.
They started by calling homeless shelters and free clinics to create a list of Jacksonville-area patients who needed cataract surgery but couldn’t afford it. Eventually, they had a group of 40 patients — and Levenson performed all of their surgeries in a single day, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.
Levenson said the patients were “in disbelief that anyone would actually seek them out to save them from blindness and then have the kindness and generosity of spirit to offer the surgery.”
The ophthalmologist also connected Donaldson’s team with SEE International, of which he is the chief medical officer. The non-profit organization provides free eye care worldwide to patients in need. The organization has helped Donaldson reach even more patients, with a total of 1,000 surgeries completed in about three weeks. The video shows patients operated on in Jamaica, Honduras, Namibia, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam and Kenya.
Levenson said he hopes the video and Donaldson’s generosity will inspire “a concerted effort to end unnecessary blindness”.
“If MrBeast can start a fire, and if we can get government and private support, we can end half of all blindness in the world,” he said. “Without all these costs, and with incredible gains in terms of human productivity and human potential.”