How would you feel if the one thing you wanted most in the world ended up being the single thing you might lose?
This is what happened to Kira Iaconetti. At age 19, this young and vibrant singer and performer didn’t just fear for her life — she feared for her voice.
Sound a bit like “The Little Mermaid”? It sort of is if Ursula is a brain tumor the size of a marble — a marble that caused this teen to practically lose her ability to sing all together.
“It was like a light switch turned off in my brain,” Iaconetti told Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Suddenly, I was tone deaf, I couldn’t process the words in time with the music and I couldn’t sing.”
It turned out a particular sort of epilepsy — musicogenic epilepsy — was affecting Iaconetti’s musical abilities. This diagnosis was devastating to a teen whose passion lies with music.
“In a sort of twisted joke from the universe the tumor was right inside the area of my brain that controls my hearing and singing ability,” she said.
Brain surgery was the only solution. Unfortunately, the operation was a risk and had the potential to affect her voice permanently.
Because her neurosurgeon, Dr. Jason Hauptman, knew how much retaining her musical ability meant to Iaconetti, he decided to take a unique approach to this particular operation.
Some careful planning led Dr. Hauptman to perform an awake craniotomy — a surgery through which Iaconetti would literally give the performance of her life.
Watch as she sings Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” while surrounded by doctors and nurses. This groundbreaking approach is the first of its kind and is truly remarkable.
“I’m doing really well and have been since the minute it finished and they woke me up,” Iaconetti wrote on Facebook post surgery. “Singing during it wasn’t too bad… Thank you everyone for prayers and comments and loving me during this time.”
“Her voice is so beautiful and her willingness to do something new helped make the whole process interactive, collaborative and exciting,” neuropsychologist Dr. Hillary Shurtleff told Seattle Children’s.
We have to agree. This young woman is clearly driven by her passion and isn’t afraid of anything. We’re so glad she’s doing well and hope to see her performing on Broadway in the future.
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