Violinist Plays While Doctors Operate to Remove Brain Tumor

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

February 19, 2020

Doctors in the United Kingdom have successfully helped a woman continue her passion of playing the violin after they performed brain surgery to remove a tumor, and she performed Mahler and Gershwin on the violin while they operated.

Dagmar Turner, 53, a long-standing member of the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, was first admitted to the hospital in 2013 after she suffered a seizure during a concert. Doctors diagnosed her with having an aggressive brain tumor that would require extensive brain surgery on the right frontal lobe of the brain, close to the area where fine motor control for the left hand is controlled. Turner feared she would never play the violin again.

However, doctors were able to come up with an interesting solution to help preserve her ability to play. To prevent damage to her violin-playing skills, Professor Keyoumars Ashkan, consultant neurosurgeon at King's College Hospital, proposed they map Turner's brain, open her skull and allow her to play while they worked to remove the tumor, NBC News reported.

"This was the first time I’ve had a patient play an instrument," said Ashkan. "We managed to remove over 90 percent of the tumor, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function in her left hand."

Surgeons operated on her brain while Turner was fully conscious and delighting doctors with music by Gustav Mahler, George Gershwin, and even Julio Iglesias.

"The violin is my passion; I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old," Turner said. "The thought of losing my ability to play was heartbreaking."

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