Former neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, accused of maiming four patients and causing the death of at least two others
A Dallas, Texas neurosurgeon is on trial accused of performing surgery on friend that left man a quadriplegic.
Jerry Summers went to his childhood pal for relief, instead he woke up from his spinal surgery unable to move from the neck down.
Christopher Duntsch, 45, is accused of maiming four patients, including longtime friend Jerry Summers, and causing the death of at least two others. The former neurosurgeon has been charged with five counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and one count of injury to an elderly person, the Dallas Morning News reported.
While jurors are hearing testimony on Duntsch’s multiple botched operations, he is specifically on trial for a procedure he performed on an elderly woman.
Mary Efurd said she was an active 74-year-old when she had surgery for back pain in 2012. But during the procedure she lost half a gallon of blood — and the use of her legs, because of her age, he faces life in prison if convicted.
Jerry Summers gives recorded testimony against Christopher Duntsch from his wheel chair
“I don’t remember feeling any pain,” Summers testified in a video played on Monday for jurors. “I just couldn’t move. It just feels like your body weighs about 10,000 pounds and you can’t pick it up.”
Summers in 2011 moved to Dallas to help Duntsch — his friend, former roommate and one-time employee — set up his new medical practice in Dallas. The pair grew up in Memphis and even played high school football together.
Summers had previously been in a car wreck that left him with pain and numbness in his arm, so Duntsch in 2012 agreed to perform the routine neck surgery, WFAA reported.
When Summers woke up he recalled screaming out for Duntsch — because he could no longer move. Summers, who is no longer in touch with Duntsch, now suffers from incomplete paralysis, a condition that leaves him unable to move, though he can still feel pain and experience touch, according to the news station.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Joy Gathe-Ghermany testified that Summers lost a third of blood during that surgery.
Gathe-Ghermany said because of the amount of blood loss, she asked Duntsch repeatedly during the surgery if everything was OK and he said it was.
In his recorded testimony, Summers demonstrated his inability to move while a nurse wiped his nose and mouth with a tissue as he spoke.
The same year, Duntsch operated on teacher Kellie Martin, who bled out following a spinal surgery performed by the disgraced doctor.
Martin’s husband, a retired Dallas police lieutenant, told jurors Monday his 55-year-old wife was taken to ICU immediately after her procedure.
“Is she going to be OK?” Don Martin recalled asking Duntsch. “He said, ‘Yes.’”
Several medical caregivers testified that Kellie Martin was screaming and writhing in pain as she awakened from anesthesia only to be put back under.
Surgical nurse Catherine Kelly-Lorenz described the moments after Martin’s surgery.
“She was screaming in pain,” the nurse said, adding she never wants to be a part of another surgery again.
Her legs, according to testimony, were covered in white and pink splotches, a sign that she was bleeding from somewhere, several nurses said.
“My leg, my leg,” nurse Lynn Bryan recalled Martin calling out. Martin clawed at her legs and left scratch marks.
Her shocked family gasped in the courtroom as nurses described how much pain she was in.
Schoolteacher Kellie Martin, 54, died in 2012 after back surgery performed by Duntsch. Cause of death was ruled to be “therapeutic misadventure.” by county ME
Dallas Morning News reports that 63-year-old Floella Brown, died in July 2012 after suffering a stroke in the wake of a spinal surgery performed by Duntsch.
Duntsch allegedly took unnecessary action in Brown’s surgery by removing “bone from an area that was not required by any clinical or anatomical standards, resulting in injury to vertebral artery,” according to Texas Medical Board records cited by the newspaper.
Duntsch is on trial for a procedure he performed on Mary Efurd who said she was an active 74-year-old when she had surgery for back pain in 2012. But during the procedure she lost half a gallon of blood, subsequently lost the use of her legs:
“I trusted him,” she said last week. “I trusted he would do what was right.”
The Texas Medical Board in December 2013 revoked Duntsch’s medical license, noting he violated the standard of care for six patients. Conviction has Duntsch facing life in prison, because of the plaintiff’s age.
The trial is expected to last through at least February.