Musician plays violin while surgeons remove tumour from her brain

19 February 2020, 17:26 | Updated: 19 February 2020, 17:31

By Helena Asprou

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour, Dagmar Turner thought she’d never play the violin again – but thanks to a plan devised by doctors at King’s College, London, things are looking up.

A powerful new video shows a woman from the Isle of Wight playing the violin during brain surgery.

Dagmar Turner, 53 – a long-standing member of the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra – was first admitted to hospital in 2013 after having a seizure during a concert.

Doctors revealed she had an aggressive brain tumour that required intensive brain surgery, and the musician feared she may never play her string instrument again.

So, an unusual approach was taken to ensure the parts of her brain responsible for coordination and delicate hand movements – essential for playing the violin – were not damaged.

With her tumour located in the right frontal lobe, the risk of damage was high.

Read more: Opera singer performs Schubert song while undergoing brain surgery >

Woman plays violin during brain surgery to save her musical skills
Woman plays violin during brain surgery to save her musical skills. Picture: King’s College, London

“The violin is my passion,” Turner said. “I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. The thought of losing my ability to play was heartbreaking.”

To improve Turner’s chances of retaining her skills as a violinist, consultant neurosurgeon and music graduate Professor Keyoumars Ashkan, devised a special plan.

Before carrying out the craniotomy, surgeons at King’s College, London spent two hours mapping the musician’s brain while she played the violin (watch video above), allowing them to identify all active areas.

Anaesthetists and a therapist watched on as doctors opened Turner’s skull for the millimetre-precise surgery.

Professor Ashkan said: “We managed to remove over 90 percent of the tumour, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function in her left hand.”

Since recovering from her brain surgery, Turner has been able to return home to her husband and son – and incredibly, can still play her beloved strings.