LUBBOCK, Texas — Just one day after open-heart surgery, Monterey High School freshman Zaidyn Ward said he’s already surprising the doctors and nurses in the intensive care unit with how fast he’s healing. 

“It feels good,” Ward said. “They’re saying that I’m healing faster than what I am supposed to be, so that’s a good thing. I’m already walking after the surgery.”

It’s been two months since Ward collapsed on the field after Monterey’s football game against Abilene Wylie. His heart was shocked twice and then he began having a seizure. He was rushed to the University Medical Center and eventually airlifted to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. 

While waiting for a surgery date, Ward wore a cardiac vest to protect him which automatically shocks the heart when it detects abnormal heart rhythm. 

On Oct. 27, Ward had an angiogram at Cook Children’s. Just four days later, on Oct. 31, he underwent open-heart surgery, which thankfully went well.

“I learned how to get off the bed, I learned how to sit down, I learned how to walk, and they took out my chest tubes in one day,” Ward said.

Ward’s mother, Cassandra Combs has been with the 14-year-old every step of the way.

“He’s healing,” Combs said. “Zaidyn is pulling through. He’s been walking around, he had his tubes taken out, and he’s done his breathing treatments. He’s healing slowly, but so far, he’s doing pretty good.”

Combs said Ward’s doctors have finally discovered that all of this stemmed from an unknown birth defect.

“The arteries over the years are slowly closing up and we never knew,” Combs said. “When he was having the seizures, that was due to where the arteries and stuff were closing up and the other one was trying to close up, so it was causing him to pass out.”

As one could expect, the young man has a long road ahead on his path to recovery, but through it all, his motto is still:

“Stay positive and be humble,” Ward said.

Combs said he will need help showering and changing clothes in the meantime. Following this major surgery, Ward will be on blood thinners and baby aspirin for the rest of his life. 

He will stay in intensive care for two or three more days before moving up a floor to the Heart Center at Cook Children’s where he will continue working with a physical therapist to reach his recovery goals. 

Something that brought a big smile to Ward’s face was a recent update from doctors assuring him that next year, he can take the football field once again.