Peyton West's dad says that when the Ohio teen woke up for his first day of school on Thursday, he was his usual "goofy self," WKRC reports. But just hours later, the 13-year-old, who'd had a heart transplant in March, had died, leaving his family, friends, and even medical professionals shocked. Corey West said his son was excited to start eighth grade, and the family snapped a picture of Peyton beaming with his backpack right before his older brother, Ethan, drove him to school, CNN notes. But as they pulled up to the school, per WCPO, Peyton told his brother, "I don't feel right. Something's wrong." Ethan rushed Peyton, who then collapsed, into the school nurse's office, which called for an ambulance that took him to a local hospital. Doctors tried for more than two hours to revive him, but he died later that morning.
Peyton was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which results in an underdeveloped left side of the heart. He had three surgeries by the time he was 5, and in January, doctors told his parents a new heart was needed ASAP. His donor: a boy named Derek Cisneros whose passion for soccer inspired Peyton's own love of the game. Peyton had been feeling well after the operation, and even the chief of cardiac surgery at Columbia University Medical Center calls the teen's sudden death "really surprising," noting such patients usually feel unwell for a longer stretch of time. An autopsy will be performed to see if a cause can be found. The Wests also decided they would donate Peyton's organs, as his donor had done for him. "He had an awesome five months," Peyton's dad tells the Washington Post, adding to CNN: "Now he's in heaven playing soccer and football with Derek." (Read more heart transplants stories.)