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March 10th, 2015

Love Story Makes a Splash: Inside Mayo’s most-watched YouTube video

By In the Loop

Allen Zderad seeing his wife for the first time in 10 years. It’s a story about science, technology, medical innovation, patient care and collaboration. But perhaps none of those captured the hearts and eyeballs of people around the globe like the story behind the story. “It’s a love story,” Bob Nellis, Mayo Clinic Research Communications, tells us. “The science and technology are secondary.”

While that might hold true for the more than 1.1 million people who have watched the video, for Allen Zderad, the science and technology that allowed him to see his wife, Carmen, for the first time in 10 years are very much primary. Allen was robbed of his vision due to a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Raymond Iezzi Jr., M.D., a researcher and ophthalmologist at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, implanted a bionic eye that -- while not perfect or in great detail -- allows him to see the world around him by sending light wave signals to his optic nerve, bypassing his damaged retina along the way, according to the story on Mayo Clinic News Network.

And though the video clip of Allen seeing his wife and other family members for the first time in a decade is less than a minute and a half long, Nellis tells us being in the room when it happened is something he’ll remember for a lifetime. “It was the most emotional thing I’ve seen in a long time,” he says. “It’s one of those stories that you run across and have a role in maybe a half a dozen times in your career at Mayo. It’s what I call one of those ‘Mayo moments.’ And there’s no question about why it’s gone so viral.”

And gone viral it has. In fact, Ron Petrovich, Mayo’s director of News and News Delivery, tell us that since Allen’s story first aired on KARE-11 in the Twin Cities and was posted to the Mayo Clinic News Network, not only has it been picked up by hundreds of other media outlets around the globe and driven a steady stream of new traffic to Mayo’s Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter pages, but it’s also resulted in a number of new patient inquiries and has officially become the most-watched video ever posted on Mayo’s YouTube channel. “This tremendous story is an example of how the Mayo Clinic News Network helps us tell Mayo Clinic’s story ourselves and also allows us to provide resources to help journalists across the globe share Mayo stories with new audiences,” Petrovich tells us.

If you’ve yet to see this heartwarming story, you can do so below. Then warm our hearts by sharing your comments below and by sharing this story with others.

Tags: Dr. Raymond Iezzi, Mayo Clinic News Network, Patient Stories

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