A patient recovering from surgery and slowly returning to something they love is heart-warming, but a patient doing it in the middle of surgery is a rare sight. In one of such rare cases, a woman in London played the violin as doctors performed brain surgery on her. Why? We'll tell you soon.
In 2013, Dagmar Turner was diagnosed with a large tumour in the right frontal lobe of her brain that closely controls our movements and motor functions. After medical assistance, Dagmar underwent radiotherapy but in vain. Her tumour went on to grow and surgery was the only option left to remove it. The right frontal lobe is also very close to the area that controls the fine movements of our left hand so it made the surgery even more complicated and crucial, especially because Dagmar is a violinist.
The 53-year-old musician had been playing the violin for over 40 years. She was concerned if she will be able to retain her skills as a violinist post the surgery. So, Dagmar played the violin while undergoing surgery so she wouldn't lose her musical ability. "The violin is my passion – I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking," she said. Moving, isn't it?
The consultant neurosurgeon, Professor Keyoumars Ashkan (who holds a degree in music himself), at the King’s College Hospital in London understood her concerns and proposed this rare but effective plan to prevent any damage to Dagmar’s violin playing abilities.
Awake brain surgery or craniotomy is a procedure performed on the brain while the patient is awake and fully alert. In 2019, doctors at the Methodist Dallas Medical Centre in Texas live-streamed a brain surgery on a 25-year-old girl who was awake and alert during the procedure.
As for Dagmar, Dr Ashkan along with his team decided to map her brain, open her skull and then get her to play the violin as they removed the tumour. The doctors removed the tumour while Dagmar played George Gershwin's jazz classic Summertime. Watch the video here:
Luckily, Dagmar’s surgery was successful and the doctors were able to remove 90 per cent of the tumour from her brain while retaining full function in her left hand. Isn’t that great and so inspiring? Kudos to these surgeons who helped Dagmar so that she can continue to pursue her passion.
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