Of the dozens of patients who underwent Christopher Duntsch’s operating room, more than 30 were injured and, in the worst case, dead. It was not for nothing that the neurosurgeon received the nickname ‘doctor of death’ and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
(Also read: The crazy experiment of a doctor who ate feces and changed the way we eat).
Born in Montana and a graduate of the University of Memphis, the specialist sold himself as an eminence in the field of neurosurgery. After doing his surgical residency at his alma mater, he served as the institution’s tissue bank program director and gained experience writing grants, according to research by D Magazine.
With a Ph.D. in microbiology from the prestigious St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (which has also been called into question) and extensive research in the field of cancer and stem cells, Duntsch seemed a competent, caring, and responsible specialist. Still, and without him noticing, his facade showed cracks.
A woman who knew him confessed to the aforementioned magazine that, on one occasion, the doctor consumed hallucinogenic substances and the next day he attended his shift at the hospital as if nothing had happened. Duntsch’s attitude took her by surprise.
“After spending a night using drugs, most people become paranoid and want to stay home. They don’t want to participate in any strange activity, and he was totally fine going to work”, he explained to ‘D Magazine’.
Christopher’s substance use problems came to the attention of the University of Tennessee, which forced him to take a test for psychoactive substances that, according to ‘Time’, he managed to avoid. In his place, he attended a program for doctors with disabilities and, against all odds, completed his training.
Some of Duntsch’s victims
By the early 2010s, Duntsch settled in Dallas with his girlfriend Wendy Renee Young, reported ‘Newsweek’. His ‘impeccable’ track record in the surgical field earned him a place as a practicing physician at the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Plano and to obtain operating privileges at Baylor Regional Medical Center.
During his service at this medical center he treated Lee Passmore, who had a ligament severed in his leg and left in chronic pain after performing surgery that his colleagues described as “sloppy” to the international media.
(Keep reading: The bogus doctor who put deadly cement injections into women’s buttocks.)
Some time after carrying out this procedure, Christopher treated Barry Morguloff, a 45-year-old man who, like the rest of the patients, left the operating room with a grim prognosis: excruciating back pain and bone fragments lodged in the spinal canal.
Among the three dozen injured caused by the “death doctor” was also Jerry Summers, his childhood friend who was unable to move his arms and legs again after a spinal fusion Elective to relieve the pain caused by a car accident that he had had years before.
Apparently, the surgeon was sued for operating on Kenneth Fennell, a 68-year-old man, on the wrong part of the body.
Adding to the list of victims is “Kellie Martin, who died of massive blood loss after surgery in Baylor Plano” and “Floella Brown, whose severed vertebral artery caused the stroke that killed her at the Dallas Medical Center,” the aforementioned local magazine noted.
(Of interest: Doctors are investigated for a child who went to the emergency room five times and died).
Martin died after undergoing a laminectomy, an intervention that aims to remove a plate or part of the bone from a spinal vertebra. She was the neurosurgeon’s last patient at Baylor, but not the last of her career.
Regarding Brown’s death, surgeon Randall Kirby wrote in a letter to the Texas Medical Board: “No autopsy was performed (at the request of the family), but it is well documented that the stroke was due to injury to the the left vertebral artery due to Dr. Duntsch’s horrendous surgical technique.”
The end of ‘doctor death’
Despite the reports and complaints that began reaching the state Medical Board, Duntsch was hired at University General, where he mistook a patient’s neck muscle for a tumor, according to ‘Time’.
The last person attended by the ‘doctor death’ was Jeff Glidewell, who Christopher made a bad incision, cut an artery and left a sponge inside the body. Even with all the cases that he had behind him, his medical license was revoked until December 2013.
Between 2011 and 2013, the neurosurgeon treated around 37 patients, of which 33 ended with injuries. By 2015, he was finally caught on five counts of aggravated assault and just one for battery to Mary Efurd, an elderly person who also succumbed to “doctor death” hoaxes.
It wasn’t until February 20, 2017, that Christopher Duntsch received a life sentence for the Efurd case. At trial, the judicial authorities pointed out that the injuries had been caused intentionally and that, in part, their motivation to continue operating was driven by money.
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VALERIA CASTRO VALENCIA
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Original Publisher: https://www.eltiempo.com/cultura/gente/el-doctor-muerte-que-se-drogaba-para-cirugias-y-dejo-lisiados-a-mas-de-30-pacientes-781683