21-Year-Old Takes Brother's Internship at Cardiac Device Company After Sibling Dies of Heart Attack (Exclusive)

"Everything I do here, I see him," says Colin Peck of his internship at Medtronics, where he works on devices that could have saved his brother’s life

<p>Courtesy Colin Peck</p> Colin Peck (left) with brother Brian Peck.

Courtesy Colin Peck

Colin Peck (left) with brother Brian Peck.
  • Brian Peck died of cardiac arrest in his dorm room at age 20 before he was able to start his internship at medical device company Medtronic

  • His brother Colin, now 21, took over the internship and is working on devices that could have saved his brother

  • Colin also planned EKG drives at his high school, which helped discover previously undiagnosed heart conditions in his classmates

Colin Peck remembers one of his last conversations with his older brother Brian.

Brian, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was home for Thanksgiving break in 2019.

“We stayed up till 5 a.m., just talking about the future of technology and what we want to do in our lives,” Colin, now 21, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

“The last day I saw him, I thought about going in his room and getting one last hug before I went to school,” the Orland Park, Ill., native says.

<p>Courtesy Colin Peck</p> Brian Peck

Courtesy Colin Peck

Brian Peck

“I hesitated because I didn't want to wake him up. I decided to go in and give him a hug before he left. And that is the one thing I'm so happy I did.”

Less than a month later, Brian, 20, died in his dorm room, the result of an undiagnosed arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) which caused sudden cardiac arrest.

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As a junior studying biomedical engineering and computer science, Brian had planned to intern with medical device company Medtronic.

Colin has now accepted his internship.

“Colin is an inspiration to all of us at Medtronic,” Becky Kieffer, who manages the company’s early career program, tells PEOPLE. “We’re truly honored to have him here this summer, following in Brian’s footsteps and helping others with cardiac issues.”

Related: Dad, 48, Recalls Symptom He Ignored Ahead of Near-Fatal 'Widowmaker' Heart Attack: I Was a 'Picture of Health'

A computer engineering and computer science major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Colin says, “I felt myself beginning to lean more and more towards applying my education to a good cause. And now I'm able to work in this department that works with the technology that would have saved Brian's life."

As he explains, “Any cardiac monitoring device would have definitely noticed an arrhythmia.”

<p>Courtesy Colin Peck</p> Colin Peck works at Medtronic.

Courtesy Colin Peck

Colin Peck works at Medtronic.

Related: 2 Students Saved P.E. Teacher's Life After He Suffered Cardiac Arrest: 'Medically, I Was Gone'

As Colin tells PEOPLE, “I want to turn my grief into change and impact and growth. And so the motivation and passion of knowing that happened to him makes me want to prevent that in any other situation.”

He’s already put this plan into action at his high school, organizing EKG drives for his classmates — which, as the Mayo Clinic explains, is a “quick test” that can diagnose heart attacks and irregular heartbeats — that may have already saved lives.

"We've had EKG drives that have discovered dangerous arrhythmias in people,” Colin tells PEOPLE. “And they were able to get treated for it.”

<p>Courtesy Colin Peck</p> Colin and Brian Peck.

Courtesy Colin Peck

Colin and Brian Peck.

“Young people believe they're invincible,” he tells PEOPLE. “Brian was 20 years old and lived a perfectly healthy life and it was just taken away.”

“I always think about the potential future where he would have been my mentor by now,” he tells PEOPLE, sharing that while working at Medtronic, “Everything I do here, I see him.” 

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