Playing music when you’re scheduled to be having surgery is unheard of, but Hawaiian Musician Sean Tiwanak played his ukulele and sang ‘Stand By Me’ in his Cedar-Sinai hospital room with his doctor.
Sean Tiwanak was about to have life-saving surgery in two days, he was accompanied by Dr. Lily Stern who wore a face shield and mask for COVID-19 protection, and stood by Tiwanak’s bed to harmonize. The heart transplant patient sang a duet with Dr. Lily Stern at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles just 2 days before his surgery.
Tiwanak had a successful surgery and has also become viral on social media after the 55-second video garnered more than 31,000 views on Instagram alone. “I know what it is to be blessed now,” said Tiwanak, 53, in a statement released by Cedar-Sinai Hospital. “Everything I do from here on out is a result of this wonderful gift.”
Tiwanak said that his time in the hospital was lonely and all who entered his hospital room had to be “gowned up.” He said he sang the duet to feel better. He said when Doctor Stern came to his bedside, “The first thing she did was hold my hand. And I think that connection really gave me a lot of comfort, and that what I needed — the moral, human support that you don’t necessarily get in a clinical environment.”
“We just instantly started singing together. And when you do that, when you sing with somebody, you kind of create this little space that is sort like a communion in away. And it was awesome. And she’s so talented and sings so well that it just raised my spirits,” Tiwanak added.
Watch: Patient Plays Ukulele And Sings With Doctor Before Surgery
The second-year cardiology fellow- Stern wants to be a heart transplant specialist and said the doctor-patient connection uplifted her.
“I was just riding so high. Leaving the room, I felt like, ‘This is why I went into medicine,” Stern said in a statement.
She is a musician herself and said the nurses had informed her earlier that Tiwanak loved to play ukulele and sing for the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff and decided to go back to Tiwanak’s room for a duet after her hospital rounds. The moment even made a newscast back in Tiwanak’s native Hawaii.
The Cedar Sinai Hospital put out a statement saying that Tiwanak had suffered from heart disease for 15 years, and had recently become gravely ill. “For somebody to be able to do that, before having a heart transplantation, and on the brink of basically dying — it’s pretty remarkable,” wrote Dr. Fardad Esmailian who performed Tiwanak’s transplant surgery.
Now that Tiwanak has got worldwide fame due to the duet with Stern, he plans to do it again some day. “We both keep saying that when he gets better, we’re going to play music together,” she said.