The Methodist Dallas Medical Centre in Texas live-streamed a brain surgery on a 25-year-old girl who was wide awake throughout the process. Jenna Schardt had a mass of tangled blood vessels in her brain that were affecting her speech and causing seizures. And while this 'awake brain surgery' sounds shocking to you and me, it's a pretty normal procedure that has been performed by doctors for years. In 2017, the University of Rochester performed the surgery on a musician while he played the saxophone.
Before the surgery began, Jenna was put under anesthesia to help the doctors cut into her skull. However, soon after they had to wake her up to perform brain surgery. She had to stay awake so the doctors could ensure that they weren't damaging any critical brain functions in the process. They woke her up and showed her some pictures and words on an iPad. Butterfly, turtle, hello, banana, 20 were among a series of everyday words that Jenna spoke.
The neurosurgeon in charge was quoted saying to NBC, "If we go into the wrong spot, that could cost her the ability to speak, so that's why we have to map out the speech areas first before we go on. We have to physically map them out on the brain while she's awake and talking to us."
Jenna wanted to have the surgery live-streamed so it could help other people who had to go through a similar surgery themselves. "It is cool that they can do that, I would rather have me be awake and speaking so they can hit the right areas," she said in the video. Over 2,300 people tuned in to the live stream.
If you're wondering how painful that might be, Dr Nimesh Patel said, "We have a GPS tracking system for the brain, and we need to find the places we need to avoid." The brain mapping surgery, however, doesn't cause any pain, primarily because there are no pain receptors on the surface of the brain.
Talking about when it first happened, Jenna said, "All of a sudden during the middle of a conversation, I just couldn't speak anymore." It seems like an eerie coincidence because Jenna was completing her master's degree in occupational therapy. Her primary responsibilities were to help stroke victims recover from the trauma.
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