PHOENIX — Two weeks ago, Perry High School football player Shae Veach stepped onto the field for the first time.
Two years ago, Veach lay in a hospital bed waiting for the news that he was getting a new heart.
“It’s a miracle he’s running around,” said Shannon Veach, Shae’s mother.
Veach was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which affects left ventricular function. Immediately after Veach was born, he underwent several heart surgeries. He continued to undergo these operations until he was 5 years old.
Growing up with HLHS, Veach’s physical activity was extremely limited. He played flag football and wrestled with his four older brothers, but his heart condition limited his chances of participating in organized physical sports.
His family never treated him differently and always encouraged him to achieve his goals. One of them was playing football for Perry, where he watched his brother play when he was little.
“We were in the stands watching and I always said to my mom, ‘I’m going to play here someday,'” Veach said. “And obviously she didn’t think I could because at the time we didn’t think I was going to have a new heart. She was like, ‘Yeah, you can do it.’ My parents never said I couldn’t do this because my heart always pushed me as much as my older brothers.
In August 2019, his heart started to fail. At just 14, Veach entered the transplant list and waited for a new heart.
Meanwhile, the Veach family continued to keep their faith and rally around Shae.
“Our faith has really been instrumental in helping us now that God has walked Shae through this and blessed him and continues to do so,” Shannon said.
Weeks after the teenager was put on the list, Veach and his family learned he was getting a new heart. According to doctors at Veach, recovery after a heart transplant usually means a year in the hospital.
Not for Veach.
“I was there for about a month. And after the transplant, I tied the hospital discharge record,” Veach said.
Despite her quick recovery, Veach still had to rest and slow down at home for five months after the operation. Fast forward two years after his surgery and Veach is now living his dream of playing football. He was on Perry’s varsity team despite never playing organized ball.
“It’s my freshman year in football, and I did college as a receiver. My coach just pushed me to do my job,” said Veach, a junior. breaks. I try not to, because I just don’t like it, but I push myself here in training, I try to participate in everything.
— Shae Veach (@veach_shae) September 3, 2022
Veach works every day in the field, making the most of it, knowing that two years ago he was in a hospital bed.
To his teammates and coaches, Veach is an inspiration and encouragement.
“It’s very exciting. It’s very encouraging. It’s very powerful,” Perry’s trainer Joseph Ortiz said. “To see someone who’s been through what they’ve been through, and he’s here every day, going through everything everyone else has been through in training and all the conditioning and all the reps, it’s just cool to see.”
Veach has beaten all odds since the day he was born, and he only plans to continue that streak.
“I always pushed myself and I feel like now with my new heart, our saying here (Perry) is to prove them wrong,” Veach said. “I feel like it really gets to me because I’ve doubted myself my whole life. Like I’m the smallest on the team and still working to grow, but I’m going to work hard here and try to prove them wrong.
Perry continues his season Friday night against Corona del Sol, at home for the first time this year. And for the first time, Veach will perform in front of his community and his entire family, once again beating the odds.