Dr. Todd Graham Killed After Denying Opioid Prescription
Walter Eisner • Thu, August 3rd, 2017
A man, whose wife is suffering from pain, goes to an orthopedic surgeon and demands an opioid pain killer prescription. The surgeon declines, so the husband shoots and kills him.
That nightmare scenario happened in Mishawaka, northern Indiana on July 26, 2017.
Todd Graham, M.D., of South Bend Orthopedics, had an appointment with a new patient and her husband on that day. At the appointment, the surgeon informed the couple that, even though she suffered from pain, he could not prescribe the opioid.
Two hours later, unbeknownst to the wife, the husband returned to the medical complex.
The husband confronted Dr. Graham in the parking lot of the St. Joseph Rehabilitation Institute next door to the orthopedic center. According to the South Bend Tribune, the husband told two witnesses to leave and then shot Dr. Graham twice in the head.
He then went to a friend’s house and shot and killed himself.
Dr. Graham leaves a wife, Julie, and three children Travis, Elena and Jacqueline.
His son, Travis Graham, M.D., issued a statement saying his father inspired him to pursue his own career in medicine.
"My father's passion for medicine inspired me to follow his footsteps," Travis Graham said. "I had less than a year to finish my residency program before joining him as a doctor in South Bend. Even though we won't get to practice at the same time now, I hope I can be the kind of doctor he would be proud of."
Celebrating Dr. Graham
A.J. Mencias, M.D., one of Graham's partners, gave an emotional eulogy to his friend.
He said his friend lived life with style and class, was a dedicated husband, father and friend even while excelling professionally and spending time on charitable causes.
"He had an electric personality, and he lit up a room like the sky on the Fourth of July," Mencias said. "Todd was my very best friend. Other than my parents, he has been the single biggest influence in my life in the last 10 years."
An estimated 500 people gathered at the St. Pius X Church to pay their respects.
“Todd challenged us all, you taught us how to think differently, how to dream big and how to have the courage to be bold. This is what you embody; you inspired all of us through your life and actions. Todd our hearts will forever be grieving but all of our spirits have been lifted by your presence in our lives,” said Dr. Mencias.
The local prosecutor, Ken Cotter noted the husband was not a patient of Graham's.
"Make no mistake, this is a person who made a choice to kill Dr. Graham," Cotter said. "This is not a fallout from the opioid epidemic or any opioid problems. That probably leads us into an examination of what is happening with the opioid problem in our community, and frankly, our whole nation."
Dr. Graham’s Career
According to Dr. Graham's obituary, he was born on October 30, 1960 in Athens, Illinois, to Jean and Jack Graham. He went on to graduate from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and then Northwestern University School of Medicine. He was double board certified in both Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine. After medical school, he went to South Bend, where he served the community as a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist for 30 years.
He began his career as a solo practitioner and successfully ran his own business for 22 years. He then went on to become a partner at South Bend Orthopedics, where he was elected a member of the executive committee. His partners valued him as a physician and for his business acumen.
Over the past three decades, Dr. Graham became ingrained in the greater South Bend region's medical and philanthropic communities. He volunteered with the University of Notre Dame as a consultant for its athletics program. He and his wife, Julie, also hosted several charity events at their home.
Dr. Graham also left behind four dogs, Nellie, Bo, Fergie, and Chmokey. The family asked mourners to contribute to the Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Group instead of sending flowers.
Outside of work, Dr. Graham was an avid traveler and rallied many friends and family members to join him. His frequent visits to Saint Barthelemy earned him the nickname as mayor of the island.
A Smile, Kind Word and Great Stories
On Legacy.com, readers left comments. One said, “We will miss Todd very, very much, the man we always saw with a smile, a kind word, a great story, a great time.......with tears of sadness, for a man we highly admired, respected and loved.”