The Singing Surgeon: A Patient Story

Known to many as the “Singing Surgeon,” Dr. Demetrio Nasol’s life centered around a love of family, music, and medicine. Born in the Philippines, Dr. Nasol’s culture inspired his passion for music. Throughout his 50-year career as a thoracic and general surgeon, he always made time for music through community events, church activities, and the choir, which took him around the world.

As he approached the end of his life, the music of his native country played a critical and comforting role. Long ago, Dr. Nasol sang Harana, traditional Filipino love songs, to court his future wife, Virgie. The songs became the soundtrack of their long life together. Understanding this unique and personal aspect of their story, music therapist, Kaitlin Ridgway, worked with Dr. Nasol and his wife to learn the melodies and lyrics of these special songs. This therapeutic musical collaboration—connecting culture, relationship, tradition  and memory—demonstrates the commitment of Hospice of Michigan’s music therapists to find personal ways to ensure comfort and peace at end of life, not only for Dr. Nasol, but for his family as well.

“He responded quickly to familiar music. His whole body relaxed. I heard his breathing become regular, and he appeared to be resting comfortably. His wife and daughter, who were at his side, helped make song choices, and took comfort seeing him relax…it was a clam space for them as well.”

–Kaitlin Ridgway, MM, MT-BC Certified Music Therapist