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.
Image source: Youtube / Dr. Phil
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 pic.twitter.com/OE6q3bim72
– Laura Beil (@LJBeil) February 11, 2021
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.
Read more: Podcasts like Dr. Death