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

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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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Women's March Wear at Sadie's

Many are gathering this weekend and heading into New York City or over to Morristown to show their support for the Women's March 2018.

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AtlantiCast Medical Minute – Winter Weather Edition

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South Orange Police Blotter - Two Arrests Reported

January 13, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of January 13

Adult Arrest CDS - Benjamin Orgera, an 18 year old South Orange resident was arrested on Sunday, Jan. 7, at approximately 10:20 p.m. for possession of CDS (marijuana). Officers stopped an auto for a motor vehicle violation near the intersection of Ridgewood Rd & Redmond Rd. During the traffic stop, officers determined that the driver ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Two Auto Thefts Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of January 8

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Upcoming Events

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Fri, January 19, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

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Fri, January 19, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, January 20, 12:30 AM

Clark Public Library, Clark

North Jersey Aquarium Society Monthly Saturday ...

Home & Garden

Sun, January 21, 11:00 AM

The Ethical Culture Society of Essex County, Maplewood

Amy Blake and Moki Kokoris: Family Ethical ...

Education

Millburn Teen Gives Laptops New Life for Charity

January 17, 2018

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Livingston Residents Share Ideas and Concerns at Riker Hill Art Park Open Forum

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Crowds Pack Sussex County YMCA's Open House

January 17, 2018

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Jennifer Gardner, Executive Director announced special guests U. S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey Senator Steve ...

Fanwood Resident Struck and Killed by NJ Transit Train in Elizabeth

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Laboy earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs from Columbia University in 2017 and a BA degree in political science a ...

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This five-week program is designed to expose high school students to careers in law, law enforcement and government. The summer internship program will run from July 5, 2018 ...

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Essex County Deer Management Program Begins on Jan. 16

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“Controlling the population by removing deer from South Mountain and Hilltop has proven to be very successful in helping to preserve the forest ...