Wedding Reception Held for Hospital’s First Awake Craniotomy Patient and New Bride

A clap-out followed immediately by a wedding reception on May 20 was attended by joyous family – and there was a good deal to rejoice. South Shore University Hospital physicians and nurses celebrated the discharge of a patient who was married at the hospital just before undergoing a novel type of brain surgery to remove a tumor.

Luis Pagan, 36, a father of two from Centereach, had his life change forever on May 9 when he suffered a seizure while working on the top rung of a ladder in an attic. The HVAC installer fell to the ground – the last thing he remembered was waking up at the bottom of a closet. After being rushed to South Shore University Hospital (SSUH), tests revealed the presence of a brain tumor.

Because of the size and location of the tumor, doctors decided to perform a first-of its kind procedure for SSUH – an awake craniotomy – which ensures that the tumor’s removal doesn’t affect essential brain function. The three-hour complex surgery took place on May 16, 2022.

“We keep the patient awake during the main part of the surgery and we use an electrical current to stimulate the brain around the area where we operate,” said Georgios Klironomos, MD, neurosurgeon. “At the same time, we evaluate the patient clinically and we get real-time feedback.”

On May 14, while awaiting his surgery, Luis and his long-time girlfriend (now wife, Nicole), married in SSUH’s chapel in a ceremony performed by the bride’s brother. Also in attendance were the couple’s two young children and other immediate family.

“I didn’t know what to do, I was scared. I’m almost sad to leave the hospital, but I do want to move on with my life,” said Mr. Pagan. “Getting married reinforced that my family really stood behind me and cared.”

To celebrate the occasion, SSUH doctors, nurses and staff feted the couple with a ceremonious party on May 20 – the day of Pagan’s discharge.

“Performing an awake craniotomy is the most accurate way to not cause brain damage during surgery,” said David Chalif, MD, chair of neurosurgery. “I have been a neurosurgeon for more than 30 years, and I am proud to have been part of this procedure at South Shore University Hospital.”

Click here to learn more about the Linda and John Bohlsen Neurosciences Center.

South Shore University Hospital is a regional destination for high-quality care in Suffolk County and an important academic teach-ing center for the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. The hospital emphasizes excellence, safety, and in-novation in all it does, including: Heart & Lung, Neurology & neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Emergency care and Women’s health.