Suicide ruling 

Coroner releases surgeon's final note; hospital responds.

click to enlarge DR. JONATHAN DRUMMOND-WEBB: Suicide note releaed.
  • DR. JONATHAN DRUMMOND-WEBB: Suicide note releaed.
(Note to readers: This article has not been updated since Wed., Jan. 5. But The Arkansas Blog has had several items on the subject and a number of readers have posted comments on the article. View comments under the Arkansas Blog item headlined "Hospital responds" for postings from more than 15 readers.) The Pulaski County coroner Tuesday officially ruled the death of noted pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb a suicide. The cause of death, said Coroner Mark Malcolm, was respiratory failure from drug and alcohol intoxication. An empty whiskey bottle was found by the doctor’s body in his West Little Rock home. The body contained Oxycodone, a painkiller. His blood alcohol level was .326, more than triple the level at which a person is considered legally intoxicated. The coroner’s ruling allowed release of copies of five pages of lined notebook paper on which Drummond-Webb scrawled final words in a hard-to-decipher hand. It was an often angry note and, as hospital officials had warned after his death, reflected frustration at some people with whom he worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Officials had described Drummond-Webb’s complaints as merely illustrative of his perfectionist nature and routine in the hospital setting. Some of the doctor’s remarks were intensely personal, but he didn't explain the ill feelings The doctor, who was said to be burdened by the small number of children he was unable to save in surgery despite performing hundreds of successful operations each year, declared in the early morning of Dec. 26: “Fuck the talent, every day my living hell!! These people don’t care! I have a gift to save babies The world is not ready for me.” He also told his wife, Lorraine LeBlanche, that he loved her and asked that he be cremated and placed in the bottom of a volcanic crater. After the note to his wife, Drummond-Webb writes: “I have taken my leave ciao!!!” He further instructs the coroner that he’s taken an overdose and that there is no need to “violate my body.” Drummond-Webb, an advocate of organ transplants, wasn’t able to be an organ donor in his own death because organs must be harvested while the donor is on life supports. The coroner's report said Drummond-Webb's body had words written on his right arm in ink -- "NO POST MORTEM" and "FUCK U." In often profane and barely legible handwriting, Drummond-Webb called one woman a “lying bitch,” called another doctor a “moron” who “will kill your kids” and referred to a doctor at UAMS, a specialist in another medical specialty, as a “charlatan” and an “asshole.” He didn't explain, though he said of one woman he named, "the deaths of children are on your head." He also wrote at one point, “We need to investigate capacity the system of Arkansas Children’s Hospital …” He didn't elaborate. The note was released Tuesday. Wednesday, a Children's Hospital spokesman said officials there would not take questions about the matter. It limited its comment to this prepared statement from Suzanne Patton, the director of communications: "Dr. Drummond-Webb was terribly intoxicated (over 4 times the legal limit for intoxication), distraught and suffering from depression when he wrote his final note. He was not the Jonathan Drummond-Webb we loved and respected. Had we known of his circumstances, measures would have been taken to ensure he received appropriate professional intervention. "He and the entire Heart Team achieved outstanding results for the children of Arkansas and beyond. The record speaks for itself. "It is useless to speculate on what prompted any of his specific statements. He was not himself when he wrote the note. “ Webb also told another person he described as his dear friend and teacher, “you would never operate like me, will never be able to.” There were a few rare kind words to his wife: “Lollie, I really love you.” But the South African native’s note was mostly unhappy: “This USA is stupid! … I am going home!!! To my mom and dad!” His parents are dead.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • Friday's headlines and your holiday open line

    What happened at the State Board of Education and what does it mean; Legislation filed for Hutchinson's government reorganization plan; Pediatric flu-related death in Arkansas reported; Suspect arrested in unsolved 2008 North Little Rock homicide.
    • Dec 21, 2018
  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "Juice In Your Own Life"

    In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide perspective and conversation on the Little Rock Mayoral Election and State Board of Education’s consideration of the anticipated request to waive the Fair Teacher Dismissal Act. In addition, Charles and Antwan discuss all things happening in the Little Rock School District with Superintendent Michael Poore.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • End of the week headlines and your open line

    Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election; Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia; Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event; The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock.
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation