Woman Plays Her Violin During Brain Surgery

Musician Dagmar Turner practiced her scales and performed simple tunes on her violin while undergoing an operation to remove a tumor from her brain at Kings College Hospital in London. Turner was very concerned about her ability to play after the surgery. A plan was made to assuage this concern. Turner was woken during the surgery and was given her violin to play.

After explaining concerns she had over losing the ability to play the violin, Prof Ashkan and the neurosurgical team at King’s devised a plan. Prior to Dagmar’s operation they spent two hours carefully mapping her brain to identify areas that were active when she played the violin and those responsible for controlling language and movement. They also discussed with Dagmar the idea of waking her mid-procedure so she could play. This would ensure the surgeons did not damage any crucial areas of the brain that controlled Dagmar’s delicate hand movements specifically when playing the instrument. With her agreement, a team of surgeons, anaesthetists and therapists went on to meticulously plan the procedure.

Other musicians have also taken advantage of the time during surgery to perform. A Spanish musician played his saxophone during brain surgery, a Brazilian musician played songs by The Beatles on his guitar while a Dutch opera singer performed an aria during a craniotomy.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.