A 10-year-old kept playing her favourite game on her uncle's cellphone, when a team of surgeons were removing a tumour from the most sensitive part of her brain. The surgery was performed in SIMS Hospital in Chennai.

By staying awake, talking and moving her limbs, Nandini gave her doctors the confidence that they were on the right track.

The 'awake surgery' is done in nearly 2% of brain tumour patients who are adults, but is rare in children, said SIMS Institute of Neurosciences director Dr Suresh Bapu.

The patients feel no pain during the surgery since neurons in the brain don't have pain receptors, he added.

To persuade her parents who were initially hesitant, doctors took the help of Nandini's uncle, a Puducherry-based doctor.

"I was in the theatre when they removed the tumour. Nandini was playing Candy Crush on my cellphone. She moved her hands and legs when we asked her to do so. The surgeon had to make sure the point he was operating on did not affect her mobility. She was brave," said her uncle.

Nandini was discharged from hospital on Friday, two days after the surgery.