True Crime Conversations

True Crime Conversations explores the world's most notorious crimes by speaking to the people who know the most about them. Hosted by Jessie Stephens.


episode 27: The Real Life Dr. Death

It was late 2011 when 54-year-old Kellie Martin had her accident.

Along with her husband Don Martin, Kellie was retrieving Christmas decorations from their attic in Garland, Texas, when she missed a step on a ladder. 

The fall resulted in a herniated disk in her back, an incredibly painful injury that she treated with physical therapy, muscle relaxers and pain relief. Eventually, her doctor recommended surgery. 

An elementary school teacher, Kellie scheduled her surgery in the break of March 2012. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Christopher Duntsch, explained the procedure was simple and routine. It would only take 45 minutes, with a quick recovery.

When the day came, Kellie and Don had complete trust in Dr. Duntsch. He was articulate and reassuring. The exact kind of doctor you’d want looking after you.

But the 45 minutes came and went. Don sat in the waiting room, starting to wonder if something had gone terribly wrong. Eventually, Dr. Duntcsh came out. The surgery had been a success, although Kellie was in a little pain. Then, he went on to explain she might have to go up to the ICU or stay overnight. Alarm bells started sounding for Don. Something wasn’t right. 

Hours passed. Still, they were working on her. Don and Kellie’s daughter’s arrived and waited with their father. They were confused. Sick with worry. 

That’s when the ICU physician, Dr. Duntsch and the anesthesiologist met with them. 

Kellie was dead. 

Dr. Duntsch, they would later discover, had sliced an artery, and Kellie had bled to death. 

For the Martin family, they were living their absolute worst nightmare. 

What they didn’t know, was that of the 38 surgeries Dr. Duntsch had attempted in the last two years, 33 had gone wrong. Patients were left in chronic pain, others unable to walk, or with permanent injuries. 

Patients and doctors demanded answers. And eventually, they would get them. 



Guest: Marshall Lewy from Wondery

Host: Jessie Stephens

Producer: Gia Moylan

Audio Producer: Ian Camileri

You can stream the new Dr. Death television series on Stan.



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 2021-07-21  22m