Malaga, Spain — Carlos Aguilera, 27, gave a dazzling jazz performance while undergoing brain surgery at an operating theater. During the surgery, a medic held up a musical score for Carlos to read. The jazz musician then played “Misty” and other songs on his alto saxophone while on the operating table as surgeons were removing his brain tumor. The continuous performance enabled the neurosurgeons to ensure that they were not damaging Carlos’s ability to play music.
Carlos Aguilera Plays Saxophone During His Brain Surgery
Brain surgery patients can sometimes be left awake to provide input during the operation to help prevent unnecessary damage. Under sedatives and not general anesthetic, Carlos Aguilera was able to offer responses during the 12-hour surgery so the surgeons can avoid removing too much or too little of the tumor. According to Carlos’s neurosurgeon, Guillermo Ibañez, such input was highly important during the final stages of the operation.
“It was very important that he played in the final stages of the brain tumor removal, as we were very close to the part of the brain that is the listening cortex,” said Dr. Ibañez. “We operated on Carlos like this because he’s a professional musician and his working life depends on this activity.”
Yesterday, Carlos Aguilera appeared at a press conference to speak of the extraordinary surgery. Details and images of the operation were revealed to attendees before the musician played his saxophone again to prove it had been a success.
“Without music, I’m nothing,” he told the audience.
Carlos’s father told journalists during the news conference that when his son was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, he feared the worst, including the possibility that he might never play music again.
“Two months ago I was on the table, and now I have a life in front of me,” Carlos said. “I’ve been reborn.”
Carlos Aguilera, who first started playing the saxophone at only nine years old and now plays it professionally, said he felt like he was “lying on a beach” when he was being operated on. He said, “Music has accompanied me for more than half my life so when the doctors said we could do this, I didn’t think twice.”
According to local reports, the October 15 surgery was the first time ever that a patient in a Spanish hospital has played the saxophone while undergoing such an operation. But in the US, concert violinist Roger Frisch was able to help surgeons locate the exact spot in his brain to place an implant by playing his instrument during a brain operation. Four weeks later, the concertmaster was performing again with his orchestra. Similarly, Slovenian opera singer Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne sang portions of Franz Schubert’s Gute Nacht during surgery for a brain tumor. Many other similar cases have also been reported.