If thoughts and prayers could make someone well, Peter Kwon would be on the soccer field today.
Peter Kwon waits in the hospital for a heart transplant while his friends Austin Metz (from left) Zack Smith, teacher Robin Smith and Darlene Scales visit.
Instead, the 12-year-old is awaiting a heart transplant at Shands Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla.
Peter, the son of Doug Kwon and Young Troy of Martinez, was diagnosed in November with Ewing's sarcoma, a bone and tissue cancer.
Peter has undergone chemotherapy and high-dosage radiation in an effort to kill malignant cancer cells, but the chemotherapy has damaged his heart. His own heart has been replaced with a mechanical heart until a donor organ is found.
"He continues to fight," said Robin Smith, his former fourth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School. "They have revived him several times. His mom says he is a walking miracle - he continues to come back even though his heart stops."
When Peter's classmates learned of his illness, they immediately wanted to help. Last year, they donned pajamas and wore silly hats to raise more than $2,000 for the Kwon family. His soccer coach Dave Morgan, who also coaches Lakeside High School's soccer team, has put "PK" on Lakeside's jerseys and balls to remember Peter in their play.
"Peter is a phenomenal soccer player. His passion is soccer," said Darlene Scales, Peter's fifth-grade teacher. "When Coach Morgan went to visit him around Christmastime, he took some of the soccer players with him. Peter talked for the whole day afterward.
"Anything that reminds him of soccer and keeps his dream alive. That's what his long-term goal is. If you ask him if he needs anything, he says, 'No, just soccer."'
Peter, who is technically a sixth-grader, won't be returning to school this year and will be home-schooled. His brother, a first-grader, and his sister, a fifth-grader, attend Stevens Creek Elementary.
Though he can't go to school, many from the school have gone to him.
"He has a tremendous outpouring of students and teachers who continue to pray for him and go to visit him," Smith said. "It keeps him going, and he has an incredibly strong will to live. He told Coach Morgan he wouldn't be on soccer field this year, but as soon as he got a heart, he would be back on the field. He seems to have a knowing that he is going to be OK."
His classmates also contracted with their parents last year to do odd jobs around their houses to raise the money to buy Peter a Game Boy to help alleviate hospital boredom.
"I thought it would be neat for the kids instead of asking for money to actually work to earn the money," Scales said.
But around Christmas, the Game Boy disappeared from his hospital room.
"Within an hour and a half, the teachers came up with money to buy a Game Boy and three games to replace it," Scales said.
While his teachers, friends and family wait for Peter to get his new heart and recuperate so he can return to school, Peter has been teaching them a lesson or two about life.
"He is a remarkable human being," Scales said. "He teaches us a lesson every day in human strength and character. Every time we see him or speak to him, we go away with more than we ever brought to him. How can somebody 12 years old get to be so strong, have so much knowledge, so much depth of character, faith and love?
"You wonder how a 12-year-old can teach you lessons you haven't learned in 47 years."
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