A former Dallas neurosurgeon, Christopher Duntsch, has been sentenced to a life in prison for several botched surgeries that left two of his patients paralyzed and two others dead. The 45-year-old surgeon was convicted of intentionally maiming or killing his patients, with 35 former patients testifying against him. His attorneys said Duntsch was not a criminal, but just a lousy surgeon.
Duntsch could truly have been a very lousy surgeon
According to federal prosecutors, the defendant was a lousy surgeon who carried out delicate surgeries as if he were a carpenter operating in a medical theatre. In several proven cases, he planted plates and screws that ought now to have been there inside the spines of several patients. And in other cases, forgot a sponge inside one patient and tore through a vital vein in another. The result was that two of his patients died and the two remain confined to a wheelchair forever. It was not proven whether Duntsch suffered any mental health issues.
Duntsch committed many of these surgical blunders between July 2012 and June 2013. The Dallas County jury convicted him a week ago and pronounced his verdict in just one hour of sentencing on Monday. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson praised the sentence, saying "we have done something historic. We are so elated about the life sentence," CBS Local reports.
Patients testify and say justice has been served
Several patients testified against Duntsch in court. Prominent among these is 78-year-old Mary Efurd who is now confined to a wheelchair because Duntsche botched her surgery. "I trusted him," Efurd, who was 74 years old in 2012 when the operation was conducted, said. "I trusted that he would do what was right." Duntsche had obviously not done that, US News reported.
Caitlin Martin-Linduff, whose mother Kellie Martin lost her life in 2012 after Duntsche operated on her said a life imprisonment for the former North Texas surgeon would not bring back her mother to life, but the justice brought a sense of closure to her pains. And Don Martin, late Kellie's husband, said he is thankful that justice has been served for his wife. Several other victims of Duntsche's incompetence also expressed gratitude that he is no longer practicing medicine and would have to be put away for life.