A Brazilian musician of 20 years gave a performance in one of the most unconventional venues — his operating table. While undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor, Anthony Kulkamp Dias, 33, remained conscious by singing and playing his guitar at Nossa Senhora da Conceição Hospital in Santa Catarina. Dias serenaded surgeons by playing songs, including The Beatles’ hit “Yesterday,” and even had an encore as doctors monitored his cerebral activity behind a surgical sheet.
“I played six songs at determined moments,” Dias told G1 Brasil, a Brazilian news website. “My right hand was a bit weaker because that was the side that they were operating on. So I stopped and rested. I was interspersing songs and talking with them,” he added.
Dias, a bank worker, discovered he had the brain tumor 15 days after his son was born a few months ago. His condition began deteriorating to the point he could not even say the name of his car and was stammering as a result. Dias’ type of brain tumor has not been disclosed, but his symptoms do suggest his tumor could have gotten progressively worse. According Medline Plus, changes in the person’s mental function and headaches, are among the most common symptoms for patients with brain tumors.
Doctors asked Dias to sing to monitor his cerebral activity in real-time. This allows doctors to safely map the patient’s brain while awake to avoid injury that could compromise important brain functioning. Cerebral monitoring ensures sensory, motor, and speech areas remain intact during the procedure. This is the 19th time the hospital has carried out this procedure with cerebral monitoring.
Keeping the patient awake is a challenge that helps the surgery team, including the anesthetist, since the brain tissue does not have pain sensors unlike the skin and other structures. The anesthetist is responsible for keeping the patient awake and pain-free. Dr. Jean Abreu Machado, clinical director at the hospital said. “By keeping the patient awake during surgery, these areas can be monitored in real time. A kind of mapping of important areas can be done,” The Telegraph reported.
In a similar case, Lithuanian violinist Naomi Elishuv serenaded surgeons at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center with Mozart as doctors performed corrective brain surgery to remove an essential tremor. This neurological condition results in rhythmic trembling of the hands and other limbs. Doctors were successful in locating the site of the tremors as Elishuv’s playing improved.
Both brain surgery musical performances received a standing ovation from the operating room. Dias and Elishuv were both successfully discharged and continue to pursue their musical talents.