Meagan Blomgren is fast. This spring, she qualified for the Iowa state track meet in the 100- and 200-meter dash, posting the fastest time for a freshman in both races.
A year ago, it was hard for Meagan to imagine that she’d ever have that kind of success. She’d been diagnosed with scoliosis and told she would need surgery to correct the curvature in her spine that until then had gone undiscovered. “Her running coach was the first to notice,” says Meagan’s dad, Jason.
After meeting with doctors closer to their home in Waukee, Iowa, the family came to Mayo Clinic‘s Rochester campus for another opinion. “We’d been told she’d need two surgeries,” Jason says. “We were hoping to get a different answer at Mayo and avoid surgery.” The family met with William Shaughnessy, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed that Meagan would need surgery. But he told the Blomgrens that Meagan’s spine could be straightened with just one procedure.
While he didn’t give them exactly the answer they were hoping for, Jason and his wife, Stacy, were “impressed” by Dr. Shaughnessy. “He spent at least 45 minutes talking to us at that first appointment, answering all of our questions,” Jason tells us. Though other medical centers were closer to their home, the Blomgrens decided to schedule Meagan’s surgery at Mayo Clinic. “We’re three-and-a-half hours away from Mayo,” says Jason says. “I don’t care if it’s 24 hours away. As far as I’m concerned, you go where you need to for the best care.”
Meagan had her surgery in August 2015, and left Mayo Clinic after just four days — two days earlier than most people who have the same procedure. (We told you she was fast.) And three months later, she set another record when Dr. Shaughnessy gave her permission to return to sports a full three months earlier than typically recommended. “Because Meagan is so athletic, her bone density is incredible,” Dr. Shaughnessy tells us. “I don’t recall ever seeing a patient with bones as dense.”
With Dr. Shaughnessy’s blessing, Meagan quickly signed up for basketball, then track and softball. And this fall, she wrote Dr. Shaughnessy a letter to tell him all about it. “When I first did the surgery, I was a little worried that I might not return to the competition level that I wanted to,” she wrote, before going on to tell him about her accomplishments, which also included a state championship in softball. “I led our team in home runs with 7. I also led the state in class 2A state in stolen bases,” she wrote, before concluding, “I could not have achieved this much without you and the rest of your team at Mayo Clinic.”
Dr. Shaughnessy tells us letters like Meagan’s are “priceless” to him. “They make me feel really good about what we do.”
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