Two months scoring a football game’s final touchdown and then collapsing
in the end zone as his team huddled there, a 14-year-old high school
freshman in Texas has received successful open-heart surgery.
On Aug. 31, Zaidyn Ward had just finished playing the second game of the
year, a home game at Monterey High School in Lubbock, when he suffered
a seizure on the field, according to Judy Combs, who organized a
fundraiser to help the Ward family pay for expenses associated with
Zaidyn’s condition.
A medical team in attendance at the game provided CPR after Zaidyn’s
heart stopped beating, and eventually used a defibrillator twice to get it
going again. Those shocks caused his heart to beat “weekly and erratically,”
Combs told KXXV.
Eventually, Zaidyn was transported to Cooks Children’s Medical Center in
Fort Worth, some 300 miles away. He was originally to have received an
implantable cardioverter-defibrillator placed in his chest, but surgeons
quickly realized that he wasn’t getting blood flow in the left side of his

“This forced the surgeons to stop the procedure and to consider performing
open heart surgery, a procedure rare for a child of Zaidyn’s age,” KXXV
Two weeks later, Zaidyn’s scheduled surgery was again delayed. This time,
COVID was to blame.
“What they wanted him to do was come here and give, I guess, his lungs,
enough time to heal,” Zaidyn’s mother, Cassandra Combs, told KCBD.
“They did a lot of testing and stuff, and what I was telling you about with
his right artery, that one is closed,” she said. “The left one is slowly closing
Because Zaidyn’s condition was so rare in a 14-year-old, his pediatric
cardiologist wanted to consult with another specialist before going any
Cassandra Combs told KCBD at the time that her “anxiety is sky high,” but
that she was relying on God to keep her strong for her son.
“God gave him a second chance,” she said. “So, that’s what I try to tell him,
you were meant to be here, He wasn’t done with you, so got to keep going.
We’re not through with you yet.”
The surgery was finally completed Monday, and Zaidyn told KLBK that he
was already improving faster than expected.
“It feels good,” he 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