Story of teen who sang during brain surgery to save her musical abilities still melts hearts

The worst thing that could happen to a person is that something prevents them from doing what they like the most, and Kira Iaconetti knows it firsthand.

The 19-year-old self-taught musician had been performing in musicals and plays since she was only six years old. Unfortunately, she started experiencing a sort of “reaction” to music.

Any time she sang or listened to a song, it was like “a light switch turned off” in her brain. Kira would go tone deaf and couldn’t sing as she couldn’t process the words in time with the music. The lady became incoherent and would stutter.


When it all started, the “episodes” lasted about two minutes. After that, she would go back to normal, but quite tired. Kira and her mother decided not to pay attention to it until it became more frequent.

At that point, she and her mother went to Seattle Children’s Hospital where a neurologist discovered that the “episodes” were small seizures that happened when the brain was exposed to music. After running more tests, doctors found a calcified tumor pushing up against Kira’s auditory cortex.

“Her tumor was discovered because of a very unusual type of epilepsy she had called musicogenic epilepsy. These seizures are triggered by listening to music or singing, which is an unfortunate problem for Kira since she is a performer who likes to sing,” said Dr. Jason Hauptman, a neurosurgeon at the hospital.


While surgery to remove the tumor was the obvious next step, it was very risky because, apart from being a brain surgery, a tiny mistake could permanently affect Kira’s voice, what would shatter her dreams of becoming an artist.

Dr. Jason and his team decided to perform an awake craniotomy, which consists of going into Kira’s brain while she was under anesthesia but then waking her up to sing to monitor the areas of the brain that work when she uses her musical abilities.

The surgery took place on September 4, 2018. During the process, Kira chose to sing “Island in the Sun” by Weezer. According to her, it made her think of her family and Hawaii, the place she was born. Apart from that, one of the lines goes, “I can’t control my brain,” something that was particularly true in Kira’s case, who added “literally.”

Only 48 hours after the surgery, Kira was singing and playing the guitar from the hospital bed. One of the aspects that surprised more people was that doctors recorded Kira singing during the medical procedure.


In a similar story, Faith Martin, a 16-year-old African American girl underwent surgery and had a couple of family members in the room with her. However, the anesthesia and other drugs were still in her system, so she thought she became white.

The video that her brother recorded showed how Faith looked at her mother and told her, “I want to be black.” Later, she compared her skin to a second family member and said, “we are not the same color anymore.”

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