tv

The 5 questions you had after watching Stan's Dr. Death, answered.

One of the world's most popular true crime podcasts has finally arrived on our screens.

Based on Wondery's viral podcast of the same name, Stan's Dr. Death follows the sinister true story of former American neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who became known as 'Dr. Death' after he left a trail of maimed patients across various hospitals in Texas. 

In the Dallas medical community, Christopher Duntsch was seen as a rising star.

Watch the official trailer for Stan's Dr. Death below. Post continues after video.


Video via Stan.

But while Duntsch managed to win over his patients while telling them he was "the best" in his field, his work told a completely different story.

Starring Joshua Jackson as Christopher Duntsch, Stan's Dr. Death follows neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater) as they set out to stop Dr. Death in his tracks. 

Throughout Dr. Death, the series moves backwards and forwards in time, allowing viewers to delve even deeper into Duntsch's life.

But as with any true crime series, we still have plenty of questions about the disturbing case.

Here are five questions you might have had after watching Stan's Dr. Death, answered.

How many people did Christopher Duntsch kill?

Between 2011 and 2013, Christopher Duntsch operated on 37 patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Out of those surgeries, two patients were killed.

One woman, Floella Brown, died from a stroke after Duntsch severed her vertebral artery.

Another woman, Kelli Martin, died from blood loss after Duntsch severed a major artery in her spine during a minor, routine back operation. 

During that two-year period, Duntsch injured 31 patients, with some experiencing nerve damage, chronic pain, and even paralysis after their surgeries.

ADVERTISEMENT

Joshua Jackson as Christopher Duntsch in Stan's Dr. Death. Image: Stan. 

Jerry Summers, Duntsch's childhood friend, woke up from surgery unable to move his arms or legs after Duntsch damaged his vertebral artery. 

Another man, Barry Mongoloff, required a wheelchair after he was left with bone fragments in his spinal canal, causing a loss of function on the left side of his body.

"One surgeon described these as 'never events,'" Matt Goodman wrote for Dallas Magazine.

"They shouldn’t ever happen in someone’s entire career. And yet they occurred in Duntsch’s operating rooms over a period of just two years."

Where is Christopher Duntsch now?

In 2012, Christopher Duntsch performed spinal surgery on Mary Efurd. The 74-year-old was told that the operation would ease her back pain. 

But when the patient woke up screaming in "excruciating pain", she could no longer stand.

Two days later, the 74-year-old underwent a second surgery under the supervision of neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Henderson.

During the operation, it was found that Duntsch had drilled into Efurd's muscle instead of her bone and sliced into one nerve at the root. There were also screw holes in places they should never have been. 

After completing the salvage surgery, Henderson likened Duntsch's work to a child playing with construction toys.

Since then, Efurd has been confined to a wheelchair, and still struggles to stand up for more than 10 minutes at a time.

The real Christopher Duntsch. Image: Texas Observer. 

ADVERTISEMENT

After seeing what had happened to Efurd, Henderson teamed up with vascular surgeon Dr. Randall Kirby in an effort to report Duntsch's malpractice.

Following increased pressure from both Henderson and Kirby, the Texas Medical Board suspended Duntsch's medical licence on June 26, 2013.

Amid fears he could move away and get a medical licence elsewhere, Duntsch was later arrested in Dallas in July 2015. 

He was charged with six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, five counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, and one count of injury to an elderly person, which related to the Mary Efurd case. 

Two years later, Duntsch was convicted of deliberately maiming Efurd. Although he was arrested for various other charges, the trial only concentrated on Efurd's injuries as her case provided the highest sentencing range.

The precedent-setting case saw Duntsch sentenced to life in prison. The 50-year-old is currently incarcerated at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville.

He is not eligible for parole until 2045.

Where are Dr. Randall Kirby and Dr. Robert Henderson now?

As seen in Stan's Dr Death, Dr. Randall Kirby and Dr. Robert Henderson were instrumental in the takedown of Christopher Duntsch. 

Kirby first became involved with the case after he was called in to assist Duntsch in what should have been a routine procedure. At the time, Kirby noticed that Duntsch's technique during the surgery was completely wrong.

Although Kirby was called away to assist in a different surgery, Duntsch's patient that day was left temporarily confined to a wheelchair.

Christian Slater as Dr. Robert Kirby and Alec Baldwin as Dr. Robert Henderson in Stan's Dr. Death. Image: Stan. 

ADVERTISEMENT

On the other hand, Henderson became involved with the case after he was forced to do a salvage surgery on Mary Efurd, who Duntsch had operated on previously.

"It was as if he knew everything to do and then he'd done virtually everything wrong," Henderson told ProPublicareflecting on Efurd's surgery.

After teaming up together, Kirby and Henderson fought hard to stop Duntsch from operating, eventually attracting the attention of the Texas Medical Board.

To this day, Henderson and Kirby are still practicing doctors in Texas.

Kirby is listed as the current President of the Society of Spinal Access Surgeons and the President of the Dallas Surgical Specialists, while Henderson is still working as a surgeon with a focus on chronic back and leg pain.

Where is Jerry Summers now?

After playing football together in high school, Christopher Duntsch and Jerry Summers were lifelong friends.

In fact, when Duntsch moved to Dallas to begin his career as a neurosurgeon, Summers joined him.

When Summers later decided to undergo surgery to treat his chronic neck pain, he chose Duntsch as his surgeon.

And like many of Duntsch's patients, Summers' surgery was botched.

As Mother Jones reported: "According to doctors who later reviewed the case, Duntsch had damaged Summers’ vertebral artery, causing it to bleed almost uncontrollably. To stop the bleeding, Duntsch packed the space with so much anticoagulant that it squeezed Summers' spine."

Listen to Mamamia's True Crime Conversations, which features interviews with experts on the world's most fascinating, terrifying and mysterious crimes. Post continues below. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Following the cervical fusion surgery in 2011, Summers was left a quadriplegic.

He later passed away in February 2021. He was 50 years old.

Why did Christopher Duntsch botch so many surgeries?

During Duntsch's case, prosecutors argued that after 17 years of research and training, Duntsch had intentionally botched multiple surgeries. They were not accidents.

However, Duntsch's exact motive for his malicious malpractice remains unclear.

One long, bizarre email sent to an employee in 2011, which was published by the Dallas Morning News and used during the trial by prosecutors, depicted a delusional man.

"You, my child, are the only one between me and the other side. I am ready to leave the love and kindness and goodness and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold-blooded killer," a section of the email read.

Another excerpt read: "What I am being is what I am, one of a kind, a mother f**king stone-cold killer that can buy or own or steal or ruin or build whatever he wants."

For more on this topic:

All eight episodes of Dr. Death are available to watch on Stan now.

Feature Image: Stan.

 Like a $100 gift voucher for your thoughts? Take our quick survey about TV watching habits for your chance to win. 

MMSurvey