LONDON (CNN) — Dagmar Turner wasn’t just showing off when she played the violin during her brain surgery at King’s College Hospital in London.
Surgeons asked the 53-year-old to play her instrument to ensure that the professional violinist’s musical abilities were not damaged during a tumor removal.
The tumor, in her right frontal lobe, was dangerously close to areas of her brain that were responsible for coordinating delicate movements in her left hand. These regions are crucial for playing the violin, and in some spots, their distance from the tumor was as narrow as a credit card.
“The violin is my passion. I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old,” Turner said in a Feb. 18 news release. “The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking.”
Dr. Keyoumars Ashkan, a neurosurgeon, came up with this creative solution.
“We perform around 400 resections (tumor removals) each year, which often involves rousing patients to carry out language tests, but this was the first time I’ve had a patient play an instrument,” he said in the news release.
Before the procedure, a team of medical experts spent two hours mapping Turner’s brain to figure out which areas were active when she played the violin.
Doctors managed to successfully remove over 90% of the tumor without damaging Turner’s fine motor skills. She went home to her husband and son three days after the procedure.
“I’m hoping to be back with my orchestra very soon,” Turner said after the surgery. She plays with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra.