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Home > About > News and Events > News > Field News > Music Educator Plays Instrument While in Brain Surgery

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Music Educator Plays Instrument While in Brain Surgery

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Aug 28, 2017

While undergoing Brain Surgery, Dan Fabbio was also playing the Saxophone. A musician and educator, Dan told his doctors that music was his passion—the most important thing in his life. After being diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, Dan and his doctors were concerned that the tumor would obstruct the part of the brain that processes music. So they used brain mapping and a saxophone to make sure that the removal of the tumor would not jeopardize Dan’s life in music.

According to NPR, “Dr. Web Pilcher, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and his colleague Brad Mahon, a cognitive neuroscientist, had developed a brain mapping program. Since 2011, they've used the program to treat all kinds of patients with brain tumors: mathematicians, lawyers, a bus driver, a furniture maker. Fabbio was their first musician.”

Ahead of the surgery, the doctors had him listen to melodies and hum them back while undergoing an MRI. Using these scans they produced a map of Dan’s brain.

“Once his tumor was removed, Fabbio was given his saxophone. Lying on his side, he played a song he'd prepared for that moment. Out of concern that the deep breaths required for long notes could cause his brain to protrude from his skull, Fabbio and Marvin had chosen a Korean folk song and modified it so he could use shorter, shallower breaths.”

Read the full story here.

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