Musicians sometimes have to play in unusual situations just to make a living.
It’s not uncommon to hear bands talk about playing at bars so rough that there was chicken wire around the stage to protect performers.
Street musicians brave the elements every day to bring a smile to passersby, and a dollar to their pocket.
Stars play to crowds in strange towns when they’d much rather be with their families.
But one man who played his instrument somewhere out of the ordinary wasn’t doing it to make a buck. He wasn’t doing it to entertain.
He wasn’t doing it for practice, either. He wasn’t even doing it just because he felt the urge to play.
No, believe it or not, he was actually playing in a surgery theater while a surgeon worked on his brain. Yes, DURING the operation.
This sudden internet sensation is Dan Fabbio; some years back, he was 25 and working to get a master’s degree in music education. One day he realized he could no longer hear music in stereo.
Extensive testing showed a tumor on Fabbio’s brain, which of course was a huge blow.
The good news was that it wasn’t malignant, but the bad news was that it was attached to the portion of the brain that is active when people listen to or perform music.
Playing music had always been a huge part of Fabbio’s life, and when he thought it was going to be taken away from him he was heartbroken.
He told his doctor that music was his passion as well as his profession and he would do whatever it took to keep it.
So, he was sent to see Dr. Web Pilcher, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and his colleague Brad Mahon. They had developed a special brain mapping program.
For over five years they have used the program to treat all kinds of patients with different types of brain tumors: a bus driver, a carpenter, mathematicians and lawyers. But Fabbio was their first musician.
Most of their work had been on the language center of the left side of the brain, and Fabbio’s plea sent them to the right side of the brain to begin mapping it for the first time.
But they had to be sure they knew exactly where the music center of his brain was.
They contacted Elizabeth Marvin, professor of music theory with the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and together they came up with a series of music tests for Fabbio.
Because Fabbio’s tumor was very slow growing, doctors allowed him time to help the team with their brain mapping before heading into surgery.
All told, it took them six months to study the structure of Fabbio’s brain.
Once they were certain the mapping was complete, it was time to schedule him for surgery. Brain surgery is not only tricky for surgeons, it’s tricky for patients.
Fabbio had to be completely awake during the entire surgery; he had to be able to answer the surgeon’s questions so they would know that they were doing the right thing.
Yes, with his brain exposed.
Once the tumor was removed, but before sutures had been put into place, Fabbio was given his saxophone. There he was, on his side with his brain exposed to the room, but he played.
“”He played it flawlessly and when he finished the entire operating room erupted in applause,” said Marvin. “It made you want to cry.””
Fabbio has now completely recovered and has returned to teaching music within six months of the surgery. The beat, for Fabbio, goes on.
This story is amazing on about a half-dozen different levels; wouldn’t you agree?
Source: Good News Network