Florida Man Plays Guitar While Awake During Brain Surgery

UHealth via WSVN-TV / YouTube

Florida Man Plays Guitar While Awake During Surgery To Remove Brain Tumor

A Florida man played his guitar while undergoing brain surgery, and the video is wild to witness.

The man, named Christian Nolen, underwent surgery at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The surgery aimed to remove a tumor on the right frontal lobe of Nolen’s brain.

Nolen, a professional guitar player, told WSVN-TV he first noticed something was wrong during a show. He said he “lost feeling” in the entire left side of his body from the waist up. 

Professional guitar player Christian Nolen plays his guitar after his brain surgery
WSVN-TV / YouTube

Dr. Ricardo Komotar determined that Nolen had a brain tumor. From there, Dr. Komotar made the decision to perform what is known as an awake craniotomy.

What Is An Awake Craniotomy?

According to the Mayo Clinic, an awake craniotomy “is a type of procedure performed on the brain while you are awake and alert.” This procedure aims to decrease, “the risk of damage to functional areas of your brain that could affect your vision, movement or speech

As Dr. Komotar explained to WSVN-TV,These types of tumors, if you don’t have the ability remove the tumor with the patient awake, actually become much more dangerous.

A Florida man played his guitar while undergoing a n awake craniotomy, a form of brain surgery
Mayo Clinic

The decision was made for Nolen to undergo the procedure. While he slept for the beginning and end of the surgery, his surgical team woke him up for “some key moments.”

Having the patient awake and playing guitar while we take out the tumor allows us to be as aggressive as possible, yet still maintain his quality of life and his manual dexterity,” said Dr. Komotar.

Nolen Plays Songs By Deftones And System Of A Down During Brain Surgery

During those key moments, the Florida man played his guitar. He performed songs by metal bands Deftones and System of a Down while Dr. Komotar worked to remove the tumor.

…[to] have people like actively working inside of your head is kind of an insane feeling,” Nolen said of the experience.

WSVN-TV shared some clips of Nolen playing his guitar during his surgery. It’s crazy to see him strumming along, knowing he was in the middle of an operation at the time!

Having a patient play an instrument while undergoing brain surgery is not an uncommon practice. For example, several years ago master violinist Roger Frisch played his violin while awake during brain surgery.

System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian Reacts To The Video

Serj Tankian, the lead vocalist of System of a Down, came across an article about Nolen’s surgery. He shared it on X (formerly Twitter) and included his reaction.

What????” Tankian wrote. Basically sums up our response too!

Nolen has been doing well since his operation. He can go to the gym and “be active” again. And of course, he’s back to playing guitar…only not in the operating room this time.

Head below to watch the video about Nolen’s unique surgery.