A 53-year-old German woman recently underwent brain surgery to remove a tumour in the frontal lobe on her brain.
Dagmar Turner was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2013, but her tumour was benign and so was not operated on at that time.
After suffering a seizure, she found out that it had grown and become aggressive. With her 13-year-old son in mind, she decided it was time to undergo surgery.
After 40 years of training, and becoming a violinist with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, Dagmar Turner was worried that the surgery would affect her dexterity and prevent her from playing.
She consulted with Professor Keyoumars Ashkan at King’s College Hospital in London, England, who coincidentally shares a passion for music and is a dedicated pianist.
Professor Ashkan wanted Dagmar to be able to keep doing what she loves, and made a wild suggestion: that she play the violin during her surgery.
That’s right – during.
Not before, not after, but while her skull was open and in the middle of having the tumour removed.
The tumour was situated so closed to the area of the brain that controls movement in the left hand, so it would have been easy to unknowingly damage with just one small move in the wrong direction.
But if she was playing the violin while under the knife, it would allow the doctors to monitor which areas of the brain were active while she played, and more easily avoid them.
“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 but, being a musician himself, Professor Ashkan understood my concerns.” – Dagmar Turner
After a long conversation with a team of medical professionals about the details of the procedure, Dagmar consented to the unusual process.
“[Brain surgery] often involves rousing patients to carry out language tests, but this was the first time I’ve had a patient play an instrument.” – Professor Keyoumars Ashkan
It seems impossible, but medicine has come so far that doctors can now achieve things we never could have imagined.
The surgeons put Turner under anesthetic and performed what’s called a craniotomy, an opening in the skull.
When she came back to consciousness, they gave her a violin and she played while they continued surgery.
“It was like being woken up from a really deep sleep. The first thing I really remembered was when they put this violin in my face, like, ‘now play, Dagmar, play’. I was like, ‘let me sleep’.” – Dagmar Turner
She groggily played George Gershwin’s aria Summertime while the doctors continued with the operation.
The surgery was a great success, and after just 3 days of recovery in the hospital, Dagmar was well enough to go home to her family.
“We managed to remove over 90 per cent of the tumour, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function in her left hand.” – Professor Keyoumars Ashkan
Professor Ashkan specializes in neurosurgery and is highly regarded in the medical community. He has achieved multiple designations and won a plethora of awards for his contribution to the field.
Medical accomplishments like this are making leaps and bounds towards helping people all over the world.
Professor Ashkan has changed Dagmar’s life and helped her continue to pursue her passion! She hopes to be back to work and playing with her symphony soon.
If you’re interested in more incredible medical news, see this Texas woman who allowed her brain surgery to be live-streamed on Facebook.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Join your friends or be the first to like our page