MHS football player undergoing follow-up procedure after open-heart surgery

Then 14-year-old Zaidyn Ward collapsed after a football game on Aug. 31.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:33 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Zaidyn Ward collapsed after a football game on Aug. 31. Two months later, he had a four-hour open-heart surgery.

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His grandmother, Judy Combs, says doctors told the family they rarely work on someone his age for procedures like this.

“They were just amazed over him because most of their patients that they had were 80 years old, this one at the time was a 14-year-old with a 90 year old’s heart,” Judy Combs said.

Ward spent the next two days in the ICU. His mother, Cassandra Combs, says the sight of him there broke her heart.

“I’m not used to seeing him like so many wires and tube down your throat, I couldn’t do it,” Cassandra Combs said.

Judy Combs says Zaidyn used to be very active, but since the surgery he’s been tired all the time.

“It’s kind of hard to see a 15 year old get up and move around just a little bit and then he gives out, considering what he had done to move an artery out of his breastbone and put it in his heart,” Judy Combs said.

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The family is worried about Zaidyn being tired all the time, so on Wednesday, doctors will check to make sure the last surgery was a success. Then, doctors will insert a SCID Defibrillator in Zaidyn’s side. It’s meant to save his life if he forms a blood clot, or if his heart stops. Zaidyn will also be able to take off his life vest.

His time back in the Hub City has been spent mainly inside the house.

“He’s doing the homebound schooling right now, which he’s doing good, he’s catching up on his work, but he’s ready to be back actually in the school,” Cassandra Combs said.

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Judy Combs says he’s staying home so he doesn’t catch any illnesses.

“No colds, no flu, no nothing, and he’s just ready to get out of that bubble and be a 15-year-old again,” Judy Combs said.

The family is hoping after this next procedure, Zaidyn can start being a kid again. The chances of him playing football again are still slim, unless he’s able to get a vest to cushion the area where the defibrillator is.

For Cassandra, she’s had to take on the role of at-home nurse.

“You’re asleep then you pop up and be like, ‘What time is it? I got to go give him his meds,’ Cassandra Combs said. “I’m not used to doing this. Go give him his meds, ‘You need somethin, you okay, you tired?’”

Taking care of Zaidyn is making it hard to make money. Cassandra is a hairstylist, but lately she hasn’t had the time for any appointments.

To contribute to Zaidyn’s medical expenses click here.