Dr Death , a new program that will reach Peacock on Thursday (July 15), is based on the real life story of Christopher Duntsch, a former neurosurgeon who was, like said a famous ProPublica headline , “So bad it was criminal.”
Joshua Jackson He plays Duntsch, who is now 50 and serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2017 of mutilating one of his patients. Duntsch has been accused of injuring 33 patients during surgeries. Two of his patients died; at least two others now need wheelchairs after losing mobility.
Duntsch’s story was first told in a podcast, also titled Dr Death, released in September 2018 by Wondery, a studio now owned by Amazon. GQ what called it “the scariest podcast of the year”, calling it “almost too difficult to listen to.” The first season consists of 10 episodes that explore Duntsch’s background and his medical career. He investigates his personal life and questions the system that left him seemingly unnoticed for years.
“He sewed up a man’s throat with a bloody sponge inside. He operated on his own friend and surgically separated his spine from the base of his skull, effectively decapitating him and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, “he listed. GQ.
“A former colleague found a horror show when he performed follow-up surgery on one of Duntsch’s patients: screws intended for his spine driven into muscle tissue, three holes in bone where Duntsch had repeatedly tried to place a screw. and a completely missing nerve root screw that Duntsch apparently amputated, leaving the woman unable to move her leg. “
Born in Montana and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Duntsch initially pursued an athletic career in football, stubbornly, according to his former classmates. “He had his goal, his eyesight on a goal and whatever it took to get there,” he told ProPublica an anonymous colleague. “He wanted to go to college and play, and I can remember he weighed like 180 pounds and said, ‘I need to get to 220’ to be a linebacker at Colorado or Colorado State.”
Duntsch made some progress, but lost his eligibility to play soccer after enrolling at the University of Memphis, having gone through several colleges. It was then, according to ProPublica, that he began to focus on the medical field.
He graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis with a Ph.D. For a few years, he worked at a company focused on cell therapy. He first found employment as a physician in Texas in 2011. The pattern that would define his career quickly emerged. Duntsch operated on patients who came to him often with chronic pain issues, eyebrows raised along the way, even from fellow surgeons who were shocked or shocked during their procedures, but the system did not provide any efficient way to hold Duntsch accountable.
Also in 2011, court testimony would later reveal, Duntsch wrote to his assistant and ex-girlfriend in an email: “Unfortunately, you cannot understand that I am building an empire and I am so out of the box that the Earth is small and the sun is bright. I’m ready to give up the love, kindness, kindness, and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold-blooded killer. “
Jerry Summers, a friend of Duntsch, was unable to move from the neck down after Duntsch operated on him. Another, Kellie Martin, bled to death after a failed procedure. In July 2012, Duntsch performed surgery on Mary Efurd, a woman in her seventies who lost mobility and was left in need of a wheelchair after the procedure. “It was like he knew everything he had to do,” Henderson told Duntsch’s ProPublica, “and then he had done pretty much everything wrong.”
Two doctors, Dr. Randall Kirby and Dr. Robert Henderson (respectively portrayed in the Peacock adaptation by Christian Slater and Alec Baldwin), worked to prevent Duntsch from performing surgeries, alerting the state medical board. After months of investigation, Duntsch’s license to practice medicine was permanently revoked.
Prosecutors began investigating the allegations against Duntsch and, in July 2015, charged him with five counts of aggravated battery and one count of injury to an elderly person related to Efurd’s surgery.
Duntsch’s trial revolved around the latest charge. His defense team argued that he was simply a bad surgeon, not a criminal. Regarding the “cold-blooded killer” email, defense attorney Robbie McClung said the tone was unclear and that Duntsch may have been sarcastic in his message to Morgan. “I think everyone is reading a lot in an email,” he told the court.
Nonetheless, a jury found Duntsch guilty of the injury to an elder charge after approximately four hours of deliberation on February 14, 2017, reported TheDallas Morning News at that moment. Duntsch faced from five years to life in prison, or could have been paroled as well. A few days later, a jury sentenced him to life in prison. He has been serving his sentence at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas, and will be eligible for parole on July 20, 2045.
Dr Death is broadcast on Peacock now