When Dr. Christopher Yang pulled up to his office outside Austin, Texas, in his Rivian electric truck on September 1, the power was out. The urologist and his staff went about canceling the day’s appointments, including a vasectomy. Then, one of his colleagues joked they should use the electric truck to do the vasectomy instead.
“We all had a good laugh,” Yang told Motherboard. “I thought a little bit more about it and thought, it’s definitely something that’s feasible.”
Yang performed what he described in a tweet as “what is likely the world’s first Rivian-powered vasectomy.” He told Motherboard “It was definitely not planned that day or even 10 minutes before.”
Electric vehicle (EV) enthusiasts or boosters often talk up the versatility of having a giant battery on wheels. The argument is that EVs can be much more useful than gas cars because they can also be mobile power supplies. They can easily power tools at construction sites, serve as battery backups during blackouts, or even supplement the energy grid by acting as a home battery when plugged in to ease demands on the grid during peak use times. Rivian in particular has leaned into this with an optional 30-piece kitchen set built into the truck. They can also serve as a temperature-regulated emergency shelter during a storm while parked in a garage, something that would be extremely dangerous to do in a gas car due to the toxic fumes from the exhaust.
But in my years reading about the potential and real benefits of EVs as a power source, I cannot recall anyone proposing they be used for vasectomies.
Yang told Motherboard there wasn’t much to it. He told the patient the situation, that the power was out and they could either reschedule the appointment or use the truck as the power source. According to Yang, the patient laughed and said he preferred not to reschedule and was fine using the truck. So Yang ran an extension cord from the truck’s outlet in the bed to the Aaron 950, a high-frequency desiccator that prevents blood loss during operations, and a fan in the patient room because it was hot with the power out. Everything else in the procedure is done with surgical tools that don’t require any power. He also had a handheld desiccator that runs on AA batteries standing by—which Yang said isn’t preferable to use for various reasons but can do in a pinch—as a backup in case something went wrong.
But nothing did. “The procedure itself went great,” Yang said. “It went just as a normal one would go.”
Yang’s tweet about the procedure went semi-viral, with 743 retweets and 522 quote tweets. Yang said the reaction has been mostly positive. “As surgeons, we’re kind of used to dealing with adverse circumstances,” he said. “We’re used to thinking on our feet and making quick decisions about what to do when things don’t go as planned.”
More generally, there were, of course, the dick and ball jokes, Yang said. Most went for the teed-up joke about truck nuts. There was also a tweet asking how many vasectomies you can get out of a full charge. For the record, Yang said, powering several laptops and fans for about four hours as well as the Aaron 950 briefly depleted the Rivian battery about 5 percent. So there’s no need for range anxiety.