Like most proud parents, the mom of Peyton West was eager to snap a picture of her son on his first day of school. When she sent him off to class, however, she had no idea it would be the last time she’d see her son alive.
In the photograph, Peyton is grinning from ear to ear. A far cry from the sick young boy who had been hospitalized and given a heart transplant in March.
Moments into his first day back at school, Peyton collapsed and died. The happy picture his mom took before he left home would be his last.
Peyton was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The birth defect affected blood flow to his heart, requiring Peyton to have the life-saving heart transplant.
After the procedure, the West family was concerned. They had monitored the 13-year-old and discovered he was exhibiting a few worrying symptoms.
“We have spent the last week getting tests and lab work done to try and figure out why he has had a cough for three weeks and why he is so tired all the time,” wrote the West family in a Facebook post. “Then today, he started with sweating quite a bit for no known reason and his stats bobbling up and down.”
Despite his symptoms over the summer, Peyton was getting better. So when it was time to go back to school, there was no hesitation that is where he belonged.
After Peyton’s sudden loss, classmates and members of the community gathered at the football field to hold vigil and pray for the West family. Counselors were made available to the students.
“Peyton was a wonderful young man, a courageous young man who always had a big smile on his face,” said Darrell Edwards, the district’s superintendent. “Certainly his battle and his challenges are well-known to our community.”
Despite losing Peyton at such a young age, the support and love the West family has been given is an example of how love will always triumph over tragedy. For the West family, the community support means they can move on and know their son was loved.
“That’s what people would want people to know is to love people and to love God and to be there for one another,” Peyton’s dad, Corey West said. “Just thank you for praying and for being there for Peyton and our family.”
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