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Mum plays violin — as surgeons cut out her brain tumour

A MUSICIAN astonishingly plays the violin as surgeons remove a tumour from her skull.

Operating while she was awake helped the doctors avoid parts of her brain controlling delicate hand co-ordination.

Dagmar Turner, 53, was diagnosed in 2013 after she suffered a seizure while playing.

The mum-of-one had a biopsy and radiotherapy, but the brain tumour kept growing.

The talented violinist played while surgeons at King’s College Hospital in London worked to remove it.

Neurosurgeon Keyoumars Ashkan opened her skull before Dagmar was brought round from the anaesthetic.

She played her violin while the tumour was cut out, closely monitored by the medical team.

Dagmar, from the Isle of Wight, said: ‘The violin is my passion — I’ve been playing since I was ten.

‘The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking but, being a musician himself, Professor Ashkan understood my concerns.

‘He and the team at King’s went out of their way to plan the operation, from mapping my brain to planning the position I needed to be in to play.

‘Thanks to them, I’m hoping to be back with my orchestra very soon.’

Dagmar’s tumour was in the right frontal lobe of her brain, close to an area that controls the fine movement of her left hand — essential for playing the violin.

She explained to her surgeon — an accomplished pianist — how she was worried she would lose her skill if she had surgery.

Prof Ashkan and the neurosurgical team at King’s devised a plan.

They spent two hours carefully mapping her brain to identify areas active when she played.

They also discussed the idea of waking her mid-procedure so she could play. This would ensure the surgeons did not damage crucial areas of the brain controlling Dagmar’s delicate hand movements.

Afterwards Prof Ashkan said: ‘We knew how important the violin is to Dagmar, so it was vital that we preserved function in the delicate areas of her brain that allowed her to play.

‘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.’

Just three days later, Dagmar, who plays for the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, was well enough to return home to her husband and 13-year-old son.