Who was Christopher Duntsch's friend?  How did Jerry Summers die?


Christopher Duntsch is a retired neurosurgeon known for the horrific mistreatment of his patients, which resulted in over 30 of them sustaining serious injuries (many of them permanent) while they were sitting on his operating table and 2 more died. He is also the subject of the medical crime series “Dr. Death.’ While each of his gruesome crimes is tragic, perhaps the treatment of his childhood friend Jerry Summers is what best reflects his vicious demeanor, who died after a catastrophic operation that left him paralyzed from the neck down. We looked at Jerry’s tragic (yet inspiring) story and here is what we found.

Who Was Jerry Summers?

Jerry Summers was Christopher Duntsch’s childhood friend from Memphis who eventually moved to Plano, Texas, where his friend began a promising career as a neurosurgeon. Jerry lived with Duntsch’s girlfriend and his newborn son in a room in the surgeon’s five-room house. He was doing odd jobs for his friend, who appeared to be helping Jerry financially because he had a credit card linked to Duntsch’s account. The two friends also spent much of their free time together at local clubs and partying, according to former surgeon’s assistant Kimberly Morgan.

Jerry suffered chronic neck pain from an injury sustained in a car accident years ago. Trusting his friend’s expertise, he decided to undergo elective spinal bracing at the Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, where Duntsch had surgical privileges. The operation, like many of Duntsch’s previous surgeries, was botched and resulted in damage to Summers’ vertebral artery. Aside from the damage that left very little bone connecting his head to his body, Jerry also lost over 2 liters of blood (which is almost 10 times as much as normal, according to anesthetist Dr. Joy Gathe-Ghermay, who present during the proceedings).

As a result, when he woke up after the operation, he was barely able to move his extremities and was essentially paraplegic. His “friend” Dr. Duntsch failed to investigate the disastrous outcome of the trial he was conducting and did not even perform basic scans on Jerry to find out what had gone wrong. “I can’t remember feeling any pain,” Summers said many years later in his testimony during Duntsch’s trial. “I just couldn’t move.”

Unable to move from the neck down, Jerry began announcing to anyone who listened that he and Duntsch were using cocaine the night before his surgery. Later, in a 2017 statement, he claimed he fabricated the allegation to get the attention of his friend, who appeared to have “abandoned” him after the operation. However, as a local Memphis news agency revealed, a 2014 lawsuit unearthed claims by a nurse who witnessed Duntsch use cocaine the evening and morning before surgery was performed.

Laura Beil, the presenter of the podcast “Dr. Death, ‘on which the Peacock show of the same name is based, tried to contact Jerry for the first season of the podcast, but he refused to speak to her. However, in 2020 he contacted her and understandably made a big impression with his remarkably tragic story. Beil is said to have said about the interaction: “I was very moved by Jerry. He has a lot of complicated feelings because this was his best friend and it changed his life profoundly. ”

How did Jerry Summers die?

Jerry died in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 10, 2021, aged 50, of an infection resulting from cervical fusion surgery performed by Duntsch in 2011 that left him paraplegic. Although he spent the last decade of his life paralyzed from the neck down, those left behind remember his attitude towards the tragic affair and his unforgettable smile with awe.

Here is a clip of Jerry and his Stella

The wheelchair he was tied to included a strap around his neck that was used to rotate him, as well as mechanisms over his ears that allowed him to use other functions of the chair by moving his head. One malfunction even resulted in the chair hitting a telephone pole, resulting in a broken foot, which was seen in his testimony video during the Duntsch case. The fact that Jerry died means that Duntsch can now be prosecuted for what he did to his friend. However, according to his attorney Jeffrey Rosenblum, this would likely contradict Jerry’s wishes as he had already forgiven his friend for what had happened.

Jerry Summers, Best Friend of Dr. Death’, Who Becomes One of His Victims He spoke out about his ‘horrific experience’

Jerry Summers, who grew up with Christopher Duntsch in Tennessee, was rendered quadriplegic after accepting to allow “Dr. Death” operate on his neck.

Jerry Summers believed so fully in his close colleague and surgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch that he was willing to put his life on the line – literally.

Summers was willing to allow Duntsch whom he was later given the name “Dr. Death” due to the awe-inspiring number of surgical errors he conducted, perform surgery on an injury to his neck that he sustained in a previous accident in the car.

Summers believed that the surgery was a simple procedure that would likely land him at the hospital for a few days, before he was able to return at Duntsch’s Dallas home to recover under the care of his friend.

The surgery, however, failed horribly and caused Summers as a quadriplegic for the remainder all his days. It was just one of 33 mishaps Duntsch did between 2012 between 2012 and 2013. The two patients perished.

Christopher Duntsch friend Jerry

Summers passed away earlier in the year of an infection linked with his illness according to local news station WATN-TV However, he died before revealing his story in the upcoming four-part Peacock docu-series “Dr. The Death Story: The Undoctored Story .”

“Before my operation I was unaware of the negative results Duntsch faced,” Summers said of Duntsch.

According to Summers the story, he first came across Duntsch during his junior high in Tennessee in the same year they played football together . He also recalled Duntsch as an “real clever” and “hard-working man.”

When he was a college student, Duntsch even lived with Summers and Summers Grandma.

“He returned home and said that he would become a doctor, and it didn’t surprise me at all,” Summers recalled of Duntsch’s first goals. “Chris believed that he would likely to beat cancer as well as save our world.”

In those early times, Summers said Duntsch wasn’t solely focussed on his academic pursuits. Summers added that the couple often played with drug use, Duntsch’s preferred drug being cocaine. They also made regular visits to the strip club.

“Chris was fascinated by some of the events that took place in my life,”” Summers said.

Duntsch and Summers began to become close. When Duntsch decided to accept his very first neurosurgery job in Dallas Duntsch invited Summers to join Duntsch to assist him in establishing his practice.

“I believed it was interesting,” Summers said.

Summers also was willing to undergo Duntsch’s knife in order to repair the neck injury.

“I believed it was pretty routine procedure. If he had done it the right way I’m sure he’d do my surgery right,” Summers said of his most trusted friend.

jerry summers christopher duntsch

As per Dr. Randall Kirby, one of the doctors who led the effort to take away Duntsch off of medical licensing, Duntsch was supposed to remove a few discs that were infected on his buddy’s spine however, the procedure was a disaster.

“Dr. Duntsch was more involved than he needed to,” Kirby said in the documentary. “Jerry Summers was decapitated during the procedure.”

Summers awakened from her surgery in agony.

“As the moment I got up, I couldn’t move my arms or legs” the doctor said. “It appears like a large pile of bricks are piled up all over your body while your head seems to be visible. I suspected that something was wrong.”

Summers was coded multiple times before medical professionals were in a position to stabilize him according to the documentary.

“I remember dying, and I can remember seeing a light, and I remember hearing people say “Open your eyes, open your eyes'” Summers said. “I was taken to be decapitated.”

As Summers was in agonizing suffering, Duntsch was nowhere to be seen.

“There was a lot of anger towards him initially. I was sure I said”F —. F— you Chris,'” Summers said. “He was paralyzing me, and the entire family, and my buddies were with me. This was an awful incident.”

Summers made use of his only resource he could find his voice to shout and yell and even told the nurses at one point that he Duntsch were using cocaine that night before the surgery, even though he later claimed that was not the case.

“When I told you that we were playing an eight ball prior to the surgery, it was completely false,” Summers said in the documentary. “I completely lied about it because he wasn’t there and I was screaming and screaming at my doctor and there was no medication taken the night prior to the procedure.”

Summers admitted that his failed procedure — and the passing of Duntsch’s second patient Kellie Martin, did nothing to diminish the confidence of his friend in his abilities.

“I have had a couple of telephone calls to Chris and he was positive and upbeat,” he said. “He was bound to succeed, and he was on the right track. In his head, he was the one to beat, —, but there was no mention of anyone being injured or anything.”

In the following years, Summers was haunted by the warning signs of trouble that the man might have missed.

“I believe I ought to have noticed the scene,” he said. “I had been there. I could have thought, “There’s no way. There’s no way to be a skilled surgeon. Someone should be doing something. The situation shouldn’t have led to this point.”

After Duntsch was arrested and brought before a jury for the alleged injury he caused to a patient aged 71 Mary Efurd, Summers reluctantly accepted to testify in favor of his former friend.

“The deposition was not something I wanted to do. I was not sure what I wanted to take part in however, I was able to assist,” he said.

A jury finally convicted Duntsch and sentenced Duntsch to life in prison for his blatant errors.

“It is the correct choice,” Summers said in the documentary. “I mean, he’s guilty. It’s a crime as charged.”

Summers appeared to be coming to an understanding of his own injury However, he appeared to have come to terms with his own injury. When he spoke to Memphis ABC affiliate Local 24 following Summers’ passing on February 24, his lawyer Jeffrey Rosenblum said he’d forgiven his former colleague Duntsch.

For more information on this Christopher Duntsch case, watch “Dr. Death: The Undoctored Stories” ,” You can also catch the limited-series drama “Dr. Death” ,”” starring Joshua Jackson, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater, on Peacock currently.