OGDEN -- Dr. Megan Wolthuis-Grunander was just 3 years old when she decided she wanted to practice medicine.
The toddler had received a medical kit for Christmas and began taking it with her while on hospital rounds with her father, Dr. John Wolthuis.
"I loved being in the hospital and visiting patients," she said. "I remember watching surgeries my dad had on videotape and being fascinated with the human body."
Today, Grunander is a trauma surgeon at Ogden Regional Medical Center with specialty training in trauma surgery and surgical critical care.
Grunander grew up in North Ogden, graduating from Weber High School, Weber State University and University of Utah Medical School. She served an internship in surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, and a general surgery residency and fellowship in trauma and surgical critical care at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
She is married to Todd Grunander, her high school sweetheart, who is currently finishing up his own fellowship training in joint replacement at U of U. They are the parents of a daughter, Grace, who was born on Christmas morning 2011.
When Grunander entered her surgical residency, she planned to become a plastic surgeon. However, she soon became involved with trauma surgery, caring for critically ill and injured patients and feeling a satisfaction she never imagined was possible.
"To care for someone on the brink of death and then watch them walk out of the hospital, sometimes even months later, was extremely fulfilling," she said. "Plus, the adrenaline rush of trauma was hard not to like."
While she has many memorable moments as a trauma surgeon, Grunander said one young man still stands out in her mind. He was 19 years old and had been stabbed through the abdomen with a large sickle.
"He lost a kidney, part of his liver and colon, as well as his entire stomach," she said. "He was not able to eat or even swallow for six months following his injury and had to spit his saliva into a towel he would carry."
The young man finally healed to the point where Grunander could connect his small intestine to his esophagus, allowing him to swallow and eat again.
"The look on his face as I watched him eat his first meal following surgery is something I will never forget," she said.
Grunander, who takes trauma calls at Ogden Regional and cares for patients in the intensive care unit, also has her own private practice. When she's not working, she enjoys running, water and snow skiing, and traveling.
"I have always had a passion for surgery. Being a physician provides significant joy and fulfillment," she said. "I feel so blessed to be able to come back and practice in the community where I was raised and form relationships with colleagues, my patients and their families."