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16 June 2014, 15:38
Professional singer Alama Kanté is ready to perform again after a risky operation to remove a tumour from her throat.
In a world first, surgeons at the Henri-Mondor hospital at Créteil near Paris removed a tumour while their patient was awake. Gilles Dhonneur, head of anaesthesia and intensive care departments, performed the operation while 31-year-old singer Alama Kanté listened to a hypnotist to numb the pain of the procedure.
"I'm a professional singer and they told me I might lose my voice," Kanté said. "They suggested hypnosis to me, but I didn't know what that entailed - it was the first I'd heard of it."
If surgeons had touched a nerve accidentally, Kanté's voice would have been irreversibly altered. By asking her to sing, the surgeon could tell instantly if he was on the right lines - if she stopped singing, he had gone too far.
Once in the operating room, the patient underwent a local anaesthetic to relax the vocal chords. The hypnotist then asked her to travel to Senegal in her mind - she believed she was on holiday throughout the duration of the operation.
The procedure took place on 3 April, but the full extent of the operation was revealed this weekend at a hypnosis conference. Kanté was invited to sing material from her new album, Generation Sabbar, which she originally performed on the operating table.