WEST POINT -- Rex Andersen had been waiting for a life-saving triple-organ transplant. Instead, his organs went to others in need.
The 20-year-old Weber State University student died Tuesday morning at University of Utah Hospital from complications of cystic fibrosis. He had been in a race against time while on a transplant waiting list for two lungs and a liver.
"All I want is a chance to get on the table," Rex said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner three weeks ago.
Last week, Rex hadn't been feeling well, his father, Ralph Andersen, said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. He asked his mother, Carol, to take him to the hospital, where he was admitted.
"Things were going well," Ralph Andersen said. "We went to the hospital on Sunday and brought dinner with us. We had pheasant. Rex loved to hunt."
On Monday, several of Rex's friends paid him a visit. The group spent the day putting on surgical masks and goofing around. His friends also brought a pizza, but Rex declined to eat.
"He loves pizza, so when he said he didn't want any, we knew something was going on," Andersen said. "(Tuesday) morning the nurses saw him at 7:30 and he was OK. He went into the restroom, and when he came out, he started to change his oxygen over so he could get more."
Andersen said he believes his son didn't have enough oxygen to pump fluid away from his heart. When Rex got into bed, he passed away.
"It's like he just laid down and went to sleep," Andersen said. "They are going to do an autopsy, so we won't know for sure exactly what took his life until that is complete, but we are so happy that some of his organs will be able to go out and benefit as many lives as possible."
The family spent Tuesday afternoon saying their goodbyes to the young man who loved to hunt, fish, camp, hike and ride four-wheelers.
"He really enjoyed hunting and was always a happy, cheerful kid," said Zachary George, a lifelong friend of Rex and his brother, James, who also has cystic fibrosis. "He always accepted others and always wanted to include everyone. He fought for life and no matter how hard it got, he never gave up. It's going to be hard without him. This is a big loss for our community."
Joyce Swaner and her family lived across the street from the Andersens for years. When their daughter, KayLeigh, was diagnosed with bone cancer, Rex and James taught her all of their hospital survival tricks.
"They told her where all of the good snacks were and the nurses she needed to be nice to," Swaner said. "They were so good to her, and every week, Ralph would come down and visit her. They are an amazing family. They never ask for anything, but give everything to others."
Chersty Titensor, another family friend, said Rex had a wonderful attitude and endured to the end.
"He was always upbeat and never complained," she said. "He endured a lot, but he endured. He had a great attitude. We will miss him dearly."
Clark Hogan is a teacher at Bonneville High School with Rex's father. He said the faculty, staff and students share in his loss.
"We are so glad that many of us were able to meet him and feel the strength of his character that he, his brother James and his parents have demonstrated," Hogan said. "The kindness and compassion that Ralph brings to work with him every day have touched each of us and each of his students."
Last week, the school held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Rex. By the end of the night, nearly $12,000 had been donated. All of that money, said his father, will be donated to the Children's Organ Transplant Organization.
A Nov. 19 fundraiser, the Saving Rex Christmas Fair, has been canceled.
"We're hanging tough," Andersen said. "It's been a rough day. I always told my students that the day would come when I would have to leave and maybe right in the middle of class. Today was that day. Rex was called home.
"Live life to the fullest and don't have any regrets. We have none."
Rex's funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the West Point LDS Stake Center, 550 N. 2300 West.
A viewing will be at the church from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday before the services.
A complete obituary appears on page 4C.