The singer who sang through surgery to save her voice


Hypnotised musician sings as she has tumour removed so surgeons could make sure they didn’t damage her vocal cords.

  • Alama Kante was operated on at the Henri Mondor hospital near Paris
  • Gilles Dhonneur, head of anaesthesia, carried out the delicate operation
  • Ms Kante feared she’d lose her voice if tumour was removed
  • She sang two songs from her album during the tricky procedure

PUBLISHED: 02:51 EST, 16 June 2014 |UPDATED: 13:10 EST, 16 June 2014

A musician who was hypnotised sang as a tumour was removed from her throat so surgeons could make sure they didn’t damage her vocal cords.

Alama Kante, a married mother-of-one, had the operation while listening to a hypnotist at the Henri Mondor hospital in Creteil near Paris.

Gilles Dhonneur, head of anaesthesia and intensive care departments, carried out the delicate operation in April.

One small slip of his scalpel could have destroyed Miss Kante’s voice forever.

Ms Kante had a parathyroid gland tumour but feared having it removed in case she lost her voice.

According to Mr Dhonneur, the only way of knowing if her vocal chords had been protected was to get Miss Kante to sing during the procedure.

She sang two songs from her album Generation Sabbar which is about modern African society and To-long which means ‘fight and get what you want’.


Ms Kante, originally from Guinea, was first given a local anesthetic and then hypnotised by Asmaa Khaled.

She then went into a trance and imagined she had travelled to Africa.

‘Because she was singing during the crictical moments, we could be sure that the operation was going well’, said Professor Dhonneur.

Ms Kante, who now lives on the outskirts of Paris, said the experience is difficult to explain.

She said: ‘There was a woman next to me who said, don’t worry everything will be fine.

‘She asked me to go on a journey and I said okay and she said I was going to Senegal.

‘It’s as though I was not in the operating theatre at all, I was far away in Senegal.’

Despite the hypnosis, Ms Kante said she did feel pain at one point during the operation but when the hypnotist told her it would go, it did.

According to The Times, Ms Kante has now made a full recovery and hopes to produce a record in UK.


The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands, located in the neck, that control the body’s calcium

Each gland is about the size of a grain of rice.

Normal parathyroid glands work like the thermostat in your home to keep blood calcium levels in a very tightly controlled range.

When the blood calcium level is too low, PTH is released to bring the calcium level back up to normal.

When the calcium level is normal or gets a little too high, normal parathyroids will stop releasing PTH.

Proper calcium balance is crucial to the normal functioning of the heart, nervous system, kidneys, and bones.

However, the area where they are found at the base of the neck is tricky to operate on because they are close to blood vessels and nerves.

One slip and the vocal cord can be permanently paralysed leaving the patient with a husky voice.


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    Hypnotically happy star who sang through surgery to save her voice
    A surgeon’s use of trance therapy in his operation on a singer’s throat tumour has astonished the medical world.

    By Peter Stanford7:20AM BST 17 Jun 2014
    Abstract: Hypnosis – or hypnotherapy as practitioners prefer to call it, to avoid fairground connotations – was often used in operations in the late 19th century before the advent of modern anaesthetics.
    Given the other options – a slug of whisky, biting down on a piece of cloth, being held down on the operating table, or hoping you would pass out from the pain – it must have seemed like a good, if slightly cranky, bet.
    “Once ether or chloroform became available,” says hypnotherapist Sharon Young, who has practised in west London for 25 years, “the medical profession became largely allergic to hypnotherapy.” If it was used at all, it was only rarely.
    In British-ruled India in the 1840s, for instance, Scottish surgeon James Esdaile made a name for himself by offering painless surgery for a plague of tumours caused by mosquito bites. He used “mesmerism” – hypnosis with an added quasi-religious tinge.
    Many years later, Irish surgeon Dr Jack Gibson, who died in 2005, also made use of hypnosis – without any anaesthetic – no fewer than 4,000 times.
    “Jack often worked in rural hospitals where there were plenty of victims of farm accidents,” explains Young, who knew him well. “He’d say to them: ‘I am a doctor, do you trust me?’ And if they said ‘Yes, doctor,’ he’d put them in a trance while he operated. The key to how it works is mind-set and the patient’s motivation. In Alama’s case, she was motivated because she wanted to sing again.”
    It all comes down, it seems, to the power of suggestion that lies at the heart of all hypnosis.
    In such cases, there can be pre-training to build confidence about being put into a trance during surgery. “There are other motivations, too,” says Young, who works with Dr John Butler, the hypnotherapist who took part in Hypnosurgery Live, a ground-breaking 2006 Channel 4 documentary in which a surgeon operated on a hernia without anaesthetic. “Hypnotherapy is much more common in American hospitals, for example, because insurance companies have seen the evidence that it shortens recovery periods and therefore keeps down bills.”

    Jack Gibson’s technique was controversial – even Dhonneur didn’t try both hypnotising and surgery – and it was shunned by sceptical colleagues on either side of the Irish Sea during his lifetime. But hypnotherapy has, in recent years, seen a modest revival, especially with pregnant women wanting a natural birth, where hypnobirthing classes teach expectant mothers how to control pain when in labour.

    The full article can be found at:


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