A Lynden, Washington teen is recovering after she sang her way through brain surgery in a first at Seattle Children's Hospital, reports CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV. The goal: to preserve her musicality as doctors removed a tumor.
Kira Iaconetti, 19, has been performing in musical theater since she was 6 and hopes to make a career of it. But four years ago, she started experiencing short episodes when she would sing or listen to music and feel a lack of energy.
Iaconetti ignored it for a while, but realized it could persist. "It started to hit me over the years that this could happen on stage," she told KIRO.
It turned out she had a rare form of epilepsy that triggered seizures when she listened to or performed music. An MRI revealed a marble-sized mass in the right temporal lobe of her brain.
Dr. Jason Hauptman, a neurosurgeon at Seattle Children's, proposed surgery to remove the tumor. He also suggested an "awake craniotomy" in which Kira would have to sing so he could map out areas of her brain to protect.
"If this is what it takes to keep my career going and get out of my tiny town, then sure, go for it," Iaconetti said with a laugh.
"I think it's funny that for my passion, I had to perform my passion while getting brain surgery," she said.
Her song choice: "Island in the Sun" by Weezer.
"She performed flawlessly — really a performance of her lifetime!" Hauptman exclaimed.
And now, three months later, "I'm good, I'm really good. It still doesn't feel like I did anything," Kira said with a smile.
She still hasn't stepped up on stage. But she's making progress.
"I feel like I'm not quite back at what I know I can do, but -- getting there," Kira said.
She's heartened her story has caught the attention of others
"I've seen a lot of other people say that they've had something very similar to this and this made them speak out and figure out what it was," she explained.
And she's full of gratitude for Hauptman, who not only successfully removed the tumor but gave her a second chance at what she loves — music.
"I was in shock that he even cared that much to preserve that," Kira said.
Hauptman said he thinks "her prognosis medically is excellent. I think her prognosis in life is even better."