In France, woman sang during throat surgery to save voice

PARIS, June 16 Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:56am EDT

PARIS, June 16 (Reuters) - A professional singer said on Monday she sang through a throat surgery carried out under hypnosis in France to ensure that doctors did not harm her vocal cords.

Singer Alama Kante, 31, who is from Guinea and specializes in traditional African songs, revealed the operation more than two months after it took place in April, saying she was now fully healed.

"I remember (during surgery) this voice singing all the time, my voice going around in my head because I said to myself it is out of the question that I lose my voice," Kante, who lives in France and is the niece of Guinean singer Mory Kante, told Reuters.

The procedure to remove her thyroid gland - whose cells had become enlarged and thus a cancer risk - was unorthodox. The operation is usually conducted under anaesthetic, with a tube inserted down the throat.

Recognising that any damage to vocal cords and important nerves by the tube, and during the tumour extraction itself could truncate Kante's singing range, Dr. Gilles Dhonneur opted for medical hypnosis to allow the patient to remain awake and able to respond during the procedure.

Dhonneur, head of anaesthesiology at the Henri-Mondor de Cretail Hospital outside Paris, has been perfecting the technique of medical hypnosis for two years.

"The pain of such an operation is unbearable if you're conscious," Dhonneur told Le Parisian daily. "Only medical hypnosis would allow someone to tolerate such an ordeal."

Kante remembers the hypnotist telling her that the pain she felt was that of childbirth, and remembers the song lyrics she sang to help control it: "Fight, never give up..."

"There was a moment where I really felt pain ... and it passed, the pain passed and afterwards it was normal, as if I were in a dream," said Kante. (Reporting by Miranda Alexander-Webber; Writing By Alexandria Sage)

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