Georgia’s Morgan Reynolds returns to practice after E. coli illness

In Nov. 2015, a headache turned into severe stomach pain, and Morgan Reynolds soon discovered she had E. coli.

head-morganReynolds, an Athens, Georgia native, went home after five days in the hospital as she continued to wait for the illness to subside. Typically, this type of bacteria runs its course after about a week.

Georgia athletic trainer Anna Randa noticed that Reynolds was not progressing as she should and requested another blood test. The E. coli had created a different issue, and Reynolds headed back to the hospital.

“It seemed like for a while, everything that could go wrong, did,” said Sharron Casola, Reynolds’ mother.

The bacteria developed into hemolytic uremic syndrome, which causes red blood cells to clog the kidneys. Reynolds said each time the doctors arrived with a new report, the situation appeared to be getting worse.

“There was a time in late fall [when] we just wanted her to have a normal life,” head coach Danna Durante said. “We wanted to make sure she was going to be a healthy person, and gymnastics was not even a concern.”

Reynolds was transported to Athens Regional Medical Center, where she was given dialysis and a new medicine called Soliris. Her health began to move in the right direction, and she finally went home the night before Thanksgiving.

Last season, Reynolds never scored below a 9.8 in her six floor routines and tallied a season-high 9.9. She hasn’t competed once this year. Her recent illness turned her focus to other small, but still meaningful victories.

She said sitting up by herself the day she got out of the intensive care unit was an important milestone. Her mother said that after three weeks of not eating, Reynolds finally asked for and ate a grilled chicken sandwich.

As for gymnastics, she has embraced a new role so far this year.

“Cheering loud,” Reynolds said.