‘Awake' Brain Surgery Patient Hopes Live Streaming Operation Helps Others

25-year old Jenna Schardt talked exclusively to NBC 5 about her experience as a patient in an 'awake' brain surgery, and why she agreed to stream it live on Facebook.

On Thursday morning, Schardt sat in a hospital room at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. She looked like she'd come to visit someone in the intensive care unit. Schardt was the patient.

"I'm relieved that I got the surgery part over," Schardt said, joking about what she would say if she came to visit herself in the hospital. "I'd be like, you just had brain surgery?!"

Schardt showed no obvious signs that she was on an operating table two days prior. The long scar on her skull was hidden by her hair. 

"I could hear the doctors talking behind me, but I wasn't in any pain or anything," Schardt said about being awake during her surgery. "I never was scared because everybody in there was so, almost protective of me, and making sure that I was taken care of."

Schardt had a cavernous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels, in the parietal lobe of her brain, which controls speech.

"I had to be awake so I could be able to speak during the surgery," Schardt explained. 

Schardt was shown images on an iPad during the procedure and asked to identify them to help surgeons know they were operating in the correct part of her brain. She could be heard saying "turtle, twenty, banana" as doctors operated.

Schardt agreed to let the hospital stream the surgery on Facebook Live.

"I just felt with the Facebook Live, I could really help other patients that are going through scary things," Schardt said. "They don't have to be scared, you know?"

Two days after her surgery, the Facebook Live post has been viewed more than 150,000 times. 

"It's, like, craziness that it's gotten that big," Schardt said. "I'm not really into social media, so this was completely new for me."

Schardt plans to graduate this year and become an occupational therapist.

"I'm actually excited that this is going to be a part of my story as an occupational therapist," Schardt said. "Definitely have a lot of empathy towards my patients, yes."

Contact Us