Surgeons operate during an awake brain surgery at Methodist Dallas.

VIDEO: Awake and alert during brain surgery

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Jenna Schardt smiled and chatted her way through what should have been one of the scariest and most stressful times of her young life: brain surgery.

Not only was the 25-year-old awake as surgeons at Methodist Dallas removed a mass of blood vessels from her brain, thousands of people watched live on Facebook as it happened.

Just a week after the October 29, 2019, surgery, a quarter of a million people had already watched some of the procedure on the Methodist Dallas Facebook page.

Patient in hospital for her awake brain surgery, which was live-streamed on Facebook.Jenna Schardt underwent awake brain surgery on Oct. 29, 2019, that was live-streamed on Facebook.

Perhaps just as remarkable, Jenna went home from the hospital two days after her successful awake brain surgery.

“I have watched my own surgery a couple of times now,” Jenna says. “The best part is reading the comments from people. Some even said, ‘I’m having brain surgery tomorrow and seeing this gives me so much comfort.’ To me, that meant the world.”

Jenna is about to get her master’s degree in occupational therapy and agreed to have her surgery live-streamed to educate others about the advances in the treatment of brain disease. She thinks this experience will make her an even better therapist.

“I’m really excited this is going to be part of my story as an occupational therapist,” Jenna says. “I think I can use this to help my patients work through their challenges and to have more empathy for their journey.”

Awake brain surgery patient Jenna Schardt with her dog.

Jenna’s journey started in the summer of 2019 when she was helping stroke patients and others with neurological problems at a North Texas rehabilitation center. She suddenly couldn’t speak herself.

Doctors found a lesion in the part of the brain that controls speech. It was bleeding and causing seizures so it had to be removed.

That delicate task fell to Randall Graham, MD, and Bartley Mitchell, MD, two neurosurgeons on the staff at Methodist Dallas who wanted to keep Jenna awake so they could map her brain and avoid the speech areas all around the mass.

“The surgery went absolutely perfectly, very smooth,” Dr. Graham says. “I”m very happy with how things went and how she is doing now.”

“Jenna was brave and so poised during the surgery,” Dr. Mitchell says. “So many people have reached out to say what a remarkable patient she is, and we completely agree.”

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