Patient records thank-you to care team from 4,000 feet above the Earth

When Clint Chamales injured his ankle, it threatened to keep him from what he loves doing: skydiving. A Mayo Clinic team got him back in the air by repairing his 'landing gear.' On his first jump after surgery, he recorded a special thank-you to his surgeon and the team that cared for him.

Clint Chamales watched as his father, a former Army Airborne Ranger, fell from the sky. After a few long seconds, a parachute opened above him, and his father floated safely to the ground.

Clint, then 9 years old, was sold. As soon as he was able, he wanted to fly like his father.

He wanted to fly like a bird.

Clint got his chance just a few years later. He made his first skydive at age 15 and hasn't quit since.

"It's my therapy," Clint says. "Some people golf. Some play tennis or ride horses or dirt bikes. For me, it's air sports. It's my outlet. My relaxation. You can't think about problems on the ground when you're in the air."

In April 2023, Clint sustained an ankle injury that threatened to stop him from doing what he loved.

But thanks to Mayo Clinic, Clint is airborne once again. And on his first jump after surgery, he recorded a special thank-you message to the team that helped him get there.

Grounded by injury

That day in April, Clint was getting ready to film a friend skydiving when he noticed something wasn't right with his ankle.

"I got on the camera step of the plane and felt a pop in my left ankle," he says.

It wasn't enough to keep him from skydiving himself, however. Despite the injury, Clint, who has logged more than 1,400 jumps, launched out of the plane.

"You get a one-minute freefall at 120 miles an hour," Clint says of the moment after leaving the plane.

When things slowed down, he surveyed his injury. "Once I opened my parachute, I checked out my ankle," he says. "It didn't feel good at all."

Clint modified his landing and later stopped at a drugstore for an ankle brace. He also stopped by a chiropractor, who diagnosed him with a peroneal tendon subluxation.

The injury would require surgery. And that surgery would ultimately bring him to Mayo Clinic.

The right stuff

After consulting a surgeon in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, Clint reached out to Mayo Clinic.

"Several family members have received care at Mayo," Clint says. "We know the level of care available there. We are pro-Mayo Clinic for serious procedures that we want done right the first time."

While Clint was pro-Mayo, he wasn't sure he wanted to commit to driving the six hours between El Paso and Mayo Clinic in Arizona for appointments, surgery and follow-up.

A conversation with Karan Patel, M.D., a Mayo orthopedic surgeon, convinced him that it was worth the drive.

"I called Dr. Patel's office and asked if his assistant would be willing to ask some questions and get back to me," Clint says. "She told me that Dr. Patel had time in his schedule in 30 minutes, and I could talk to him myself. I couldn't believe I was going to get to talk to the surgeon prior to an actual appointment."

Dr. Patel answered every question Clint had.

"That discussion solidified the decision to go to Mayo," he says. "Dr. Patel went above and beyond from the start."

Clint's surgery took place on July 12. By October, he was cleared to jump again.

On his first jump back, Clint taped a special message from 4,000 feet above ground.

"Thank you Dr. Patel and the Mayo Clinic," he said in a video he posted on Instagram. "Thanks for getting me back in the air, Doc!"

While flying high is Clint's therapy, landing is why he needed Dr. Patel.

"He gave me back my landing gear," Clint says.

That message helps keep Dr. Patel's feet on the ground.

"Receiving a message like Clint's grounds us," Dr. Patel says. "Clint is an exact example of why I chose to go into orthopaedic surgery. His message reminds us of what we can help people achieve. It drives us to continue to improve our techniques and push the limits."

All the way to the sky.

To see more of Clint in the air, check him out on Instagram or Facebook.