Kira Iaconetti discovered her love for music at a very young age. She loved to sing and started doing so on stage when she was just six-years-old. Over the years, she honed her skill and was a beautiful singer. She acted acting and singing very early. By the time she began junior high, she was known as an actress and singer. She says that it was her identity. In 2014, everything changed for Kira. She would get on stage to perform, and she would forget how to sing. She says that while she was performing, she would go into a “mental daze.” She says that it was as if a light went off in her brain, and suddenly she was
Kira started to experience severe anxiety while she was on stage. She was worried that she would experience something similar, and it made getting on stage difficult. Her symptoms started to get worse, and she would slur her words and become incoherent. After, she would be mentally exhausted. She was worried about her health, her state of mind, and her future as a performer. She knew that she needed to see a doctor if she was ever going to get on stage again.
Looking For Answers
Kira loved to sing, and she couldn’t understand why she forgot how. Her mother scheduled her an appointment with Seattle Children’s Hospital to figure out what was going on. She needed answers. The doctors ordered an MRI to get a good look at her brain. She was sure that this would help her get the answers she was looking for. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was serious.
The MRI showed that Kira had a rare form of epilepsy, but that wasn’t what was causing her to forget how to sing. She also had a small brain tumor growing on her right temporal lobe. The tumor was causing Kira to have seizures when she heard music, and it would cause her to forget how to sing. According to her neurosurgeon, Dr. Jason Hauptman, the rare type of epilepsy that she had was called musicogenic epilepsy. The doctors scheduled a surgery to remove the tumor, hoping to return Kira’s ability to sing. They were very confident that they could remove the tumor, which would stop the seizures, allowing Kira to return to the stage. Kira’s father was worried that they would damage something in her brain during the surgery, which would cause more problems. He knew that the tumor had to be removed, so he just prayed that the surgery would go exactly as planned.
The Surgical Plan
Dr. Hauptman worked with a few other doctors to create the best surgical plan to remove Kira’s tumor without destroying her ability to sing, speak, or think. Most people have surgery, and they are put under anesthesia for the whole thing. When they wake up, the surgery is over, and everything is fine. Kira’s surgery was going to be a bit different. Her doctor was planning to wake her up in the middle of the surgery. He would then ask her to perform musical exercises while her doctors watched her and observed her behavior. This would allow them to get an idea of the areas that they needed to avoid while removing the tumor. The procedure is called an awake craniotomy.
The idea of her doctor poking around in her brain while she was still awake caused Kira a serious amount of anxiety. She knew that it was a common procedure. She also knew that her doctor had gathered an expert team to perform the surgery. As worried as she was, Kira knew that it was the only way that her ability to sing and perform would return. The doctors asked Kira for the names of a few of her favorite songs. These were the ones that they would ask her to sing during the surgery.
For the first part of the surgery, Kira was under anesthesia. They had to open up her head to expose the part of her brain that held the tumor. When the tumor was exposed, they stopped the anesthesia and began taking to Kira. She asked if they could see her brain, and her doctor said yes. Next, the doctor asked Kira to start singing. They had chosen the song Island in the Sun by Weezer. She was singing beautifully and hit all the right notes. Soon, the doctors were singing along with her. Finally, they were able to find the tumor and knew precisely where they needed to cut to keep her from losing any of her faculties.
After removing the tumor, the doctors put Kira back under anesthesia to close up her head. The doctors told her parents that her prognosis was excellent. They said that they got the whole tumor, and Kira should be back to her old self in time.
Two Days Later
Just two days after her surgery, Kira was sitting up in her bed, singing, and playing guitar. Most people couldn’t believe that she just had brain surgery two days earlier. Her family was thrilled that she was finally able to sing again. It was the first time they had really seen her smile and enjoy life since she lost her ability to sing.
Clean Bill of Heath
This teen with a brain tumor was awake during surgery, and she sang through the entire procedure. After, her doctors gave her a clean bill of health. They told her and her parents that the chances of the tumor returning were incredibly slim; therefore, she would need no follow up care. Finally, she returned to the stage as though nothing had ever happened.