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Man plays guitar during brain surgery: 'It’s kind of an insane feeling'

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 24, 2024 12:40 pm

A professional guitarist had a mindblowing session as he underwent brain surgery while playing his beloved music instrument.

Local television station WSVN Miami reported that Christian Nolen underwent an awake craniatomy—a procedure performed in the brain while someone is awake and alert—at the University of Miami (UM)’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Nolen was attempting to play songs by American alternative metal band Deftones on his acoustic guitar as a team of doctors, nurses, and techs were operating on his brain.

“It was just like out of this world, like, to just like wake up and like have people actively working inside of your head,” he’s quoted as saying. “It’s kind of an insane feeling.”

He recalled getting knocked during a show, losing feeling in his whole left side.

“From the waist up, like, I wasn’t able to move my arm, my face began to drag,” Nolen said.

His doctor then told him he had a tumor and he needed surgery.

During the two-hour procedure, Nolen was asleep at the start and at the end, though was awake and was playing his guitar during some key moments, WSVN Miami reported.

Dr. Ricardo Komotar, a neurosurgeon and the director of the UM’s Brain Tumor Program, said the tumor becomes much more dangerous if it cannot be removed with the patient awake.

“Having the patient awake and playing guitar while we take out the tumor allows us to be as aggressive as possible, yet still maintain his quality of life and his manual dexterity,” Komotar is quoted as saying.

Nolen has returned to playing the guitar as usual, though he still has to undergo some treatments and therapy.