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Inspiring Story of Morristown Medical Center Surgeon to Be Featured on ABC’s 20/20

Dr. Christopher McCulloh, a third year general surgery resident at Morristown Medical Center uses a Levo C3 standing wheelchair while operating. Credits: Morristown Medical Center

MORRISTOWN, NJ – Long before becoming a general surgery resident at Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Christopher McCulloh experienced a life-changing event nine years ago that would be one of his greatest tests of will just six months before starting medical school at Case Western Reserve University, the top-ranked private research university in Ohio.

It was a typical a Sunday evening, as McCulloh recalled, until he slipped on the hardwood floor and dislocated the C7 spinal segment in his neck, which rendered him unconscious for about 15 minutes and paralyzed below the waist.  After a two-week stay in the hospital and enduring a four-month rehabilitation program it was clear that he wouldn’t be able to return to pre-injury form where he wouldn’t be able to walk independently again.

That is when the reality of the daunting challenge that he faced of becoming a surgeon sunk in, but it did not discourage him from pursuing his life-long dream. In fact, it served as his motivation to prove others wrong even though he admittedly had some tough days throughout the rehabilitation process.

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“My initial interest was in neurosurgery and when I broke my neck, I told the neurosurgeon who operated on me that I’m going to medical school and I want to do what you’re doing,” explained McCulloh, as he recalled his first doubter. “He was very supportive of my interest in medical school, but suggested that I pursue something else where I wouldn’t be standing for long periods of time.”

Throughout medical school, McCulloh received much more support, which he says a major factor in his development as a surgeon.

“I was fortunate enough to find a few surgeons who were more than happy to have me with them in the operating room,” says McCulloh. “They were very willing to find ways to make it work.”

It was during medical school that McCulloh received advice from a plastic surgeon in Hawaii how he could ‘mobilize’ himself through a standing wheelchair, which was backed in his case through a state-funded program in Ohio that he was able to secure as a medical school student. Upon learning that several other surgeons across the country were able to perform at a high level under similar circumstances, it gave him a boost of confidence.

“I’ve been fortunate that more often than not, I’ve had people in my life that have been very supportive,” suggests McCulloh, who is in his third year at Morristown Medical Center. “I’ve had really good mentorship. Not only at medical school, but now with Dr. (Eric) Lazar, who is the program director at Morristown Medical Center even before I started here.

“The mentorship I’ve received has been key all along the way.”

Dr. McCulloh now uses a specialty Levo C3 standing wheelchair while he operates and has been using this device over the last four years. This enables him to perform surgeries just like any other surgeon.

ABC’s 20/20 will feature Dr. McCulloh’s journey to becoming a surgeon tonight alongside other doctors with disabilities in the 10 p.m. hour. The segment cross-promotes the channel’s new TV medical-drama series “The Good Doctor,” a surgeon living with autism spectrum disorder, which will premiere on Monday, September 25.

“I’ve learned that a lot of people are dealing with challenges in life, mine just happen to be more visible,” McCulloh said. “It’s important not to get caught up in the little day-to-day bumps and hiccups. Don’t lose sight on the big picture of what’s important in life.”

McCulloh’s inner competitive-self motivates him to continue performing at a high level while saving patients’ lives.

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South Orange Police Blotter - Four Adult Arrests Reported, One for Assault

September 14, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of September 14

Adult Arrest - David Boone, a 20 year old Newark resident was arrested on Saturday, September 2, at approximately 6:47 p.m. for assault and an active arrest warrant out of South Orange. Officers responded to Valley St and South Orange Ave for a reported assault that had just occurred and quickly located a subject (Boone) who ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Three Bicycle Thefts Reported

September 8 - Theft from Vehicle; At approximately 4 p.m., an unsecured work vehicle parked on the 1600 block of Springfield Ave was entered and a phone was taken.

September 8 - Bicycle Theft; During the daytime hours a bicycle was stolen from the train station on Dunnell Rd.

September 8 -  Bicycle Theft; During the daytime hours a bicycle was stolen from the bike rack at the ...

South Orange Chamber of Commerce Holds Networking Event and Makes Donation to South Orange Lions Club

September 18, 2017

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ The South Orange Chamber of Commerce celebrated the start of the fall season with a Social and Business Networking event hosted by Bunny’s Sports Bar. In addition to enjoying time to network over food and drinks, the South Orange Chamber also made a donation of $1000 to the South Orange Lions Club. This donation was made specifically towards the South Orange Lions Club ...

Ribbon Cutting and Dedication for New Grove Park Playground in South Orange

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The community celebrated the opening of Grove Park, a new playground in the Montrose Park area of South Orange, with a ribbon cutting and dedication on Saturday, September 9.

The new equipment at the playground is painted in Montrose Park's historic colors of red, green and tan. Prior to the upgrade, residents were able to provide their input regarding function and ...

Upcoming Events

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Tue, September 19, 7:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Presents Genealogy 101 with Jake ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, September 20, 12:00 PM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Rise

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, September 21, 8:30 AM

Kol Rina, South Orange

High Holy Days at Kol Rina

Religions And Spirituality

Thu, September 21, 12:00 PM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Rise

Arts & Entertainment

SOFIA Walk Against Domestic Violence Draws Awareness and Support for Victims

September 18, 2017

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Hundreds gathered at Canterbury Park for a cause on Saturday, September 9. 

Families, friends and support organizations gathered together for the 7th annual S.O.F.I.A ( Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates) walk in remembrance of those who died and continue to walk in silence and a celebration of those who survived and are willing to share their stories in order to make ...

Saint Barnabas Celebrates Grand Opening of Cooperman Family Pavilion

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Local dignitaries, Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) staff and benefactors of the new Cooperman Family Pavilion — a five-story, 241,000-square-foot SBMC facility that is expected to change the healthcare landscape in New Jersey when it officially opens on Sept. 18 — were invited to a celebratory ribbon cutting on site on Thursday evening.

The grand ...

Duck Donuts is Coming to Clark

September 18, 2017

CLARK, NJ – Duck Donuts is forecasting a spring opening of its fifth New Jersey location in the Clark Circle Shopping Plaza, according to Kristin Kellum, PR manager of Duck Donuts.    

The Duck Donuts made-to-order experience begins with a hot vanilla caked doughnut cooked  fresh. What it becomes after it exits the fryer is up to the person preparing to eat ...

Powerball Jackpot Rolls to $132,000,000 after $50,000 Win September 13

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Powerball jackpot rolls to $132,000,000 after one person matched four of the five white balls that were drawn on Wednesday September 13.

That ticket won a $50,000 third-tier prize. It was sold at Buy Wise Markets Inc., 5 Randolph Ave., Mine Hill in Morris County.

The winning numbers for the Wednesday, Sept.

AAA Reports Gas Prices Rise One Cent Over Last Week

September 12, 2017

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - AAA's weekly survey found that the average price for a gallon of gasoline in New Jersey is up one cent over last week.

On September 11, the average to be $2.78, up one cent from $2.77 last week. Today’s average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is 36 cents higher than a month ago ($2.42) and 80 cents higher than one year ago ($1.98).

Nationally, the ...

Lightbridge Academy to Support Children Affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma with 2,000-plus Backpacks Filled with Comfort and Care

September 18, 2017

The early education and child care brand will help provide needed supplies for the school year while teaching children empathy, community service, and how to be a leader

Lightbridge Academy, a leading early education and child care franchise system with almost 30 locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic is reaching across the country to support the children and families in Texas and Florida. The ...

Clawson Architects Awarded Gold Medal for Design Excellence by Peers at 22nd Annual Architectural Awards

Michael Graves School of Public Architecture, Kean University, Elizabeth, NJ – Clawson Architects, LLC, of Maplewood, New Jersey, received a Gold medal for design achievements from the American Institute of Architects regional chapter. The Newark Suburban Chapter awarded the Maplewood-based firm the award this year for outstanding residential architectural design element.

In this ...

Ethical Education Initiative: How Do I Fit In?

The Families for Ethical Education Initiative has been busy planning for our upcoming year. We will be meeting on the fourth Sunday of each month with our first platform on September 24th. This year we will be exploring the question, “How do I fit in?”

We will explore all aspects of our lives, family friends, school, work, etc. Our theme in every event is built upon ethical ...