Pediatric Surgeon Channels Elvis

Parents say Dr. Cohen's passion for Elvis has helped save their kids' lives.

ByABC News via logo
January 25, 2008, 9:22 AM

Jan. 25, 2008— -- There's nothing like a good Elvis tune to put a smile on your face. But who knew that the King's music could also have healing power?

Just ask Dr. Alan Cohen, who has combined brain surgery with what he calls his true calling: impersonating Elvis.

His patients say that swapping his green operating scrubs for a blue jumpsuit can sometimes make all the difference.

"I'm a pediatric neurosurgeon. I've done that for a long time. But I've always felt that my true calling was the stage. The only problem is that I really have virtually no talent whatsoever," says Cohen, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

A dedicated surgeon, Cohen already has his work cut out for him saving kids lives.

"For many years, leukemia was the No. 1 cause of cancer death in children, and now pediatric brain cancer has the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 cause of cancer death in children," he explains.

"I like to play music when I operate, and we found that in some of the difficult cases, we would turn to Elvis as the King and it helped us through some difficult times," says Cohen.

As word spread that this popular doctor was a big fan of the King, people started sending him Elvis-themed presents.

For the past six years, on Jan.8, Presley's birthday, Cohen, security detail in tow, has taken his Elvis passion one step further. He's taken to the stage channeling his hero, the King.

"I want to let you know I do weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. And if people are interested, book early, because I do have a complicated OR schedule I've got to coordinate with," Cohen jokes.

This year the kids joining him were all former patients. On the day of Cohen's performance, though, they're all there to sing, dance and laugh with a man they have come to love.

Each of these children came to know Cohen in their darkest hour, hoping for a miracle, and have formed a deeply personal bond with "Big Al" as he's affectionately known.