On his 17th birthday David Cosner was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels, often restricting blood flow to various organs. Many die from kidney failure, however, David’s disease seemed particularly interested in destroying his lungs.
I met David Cosner three months ago after his 135th lung surgery. I remember thinking, ‘This kid is thin, way too thin.’ David explained that two months prior he’d been in a coma. It’s a little known fact that when you’re in a coma, you’re not fed very much. Doctors would prefer to have your body using its energy to fight infection rather than frittering its time away on digestion.
Many of the lung surgeries were spent removing parts of David’s lungs. I was doing the mental math on 135 surgeries. How much lung did he have left? I watched David struggle for breath during our conversation. He explained, ‘Imagine that somebody gives you a single straw and tells you that, from here on out, this is how you’re going to breathe’.
Even worse, there’s no cure for Wegener’s and only a flickering hope for remission.
So David Cosner sat across the table from us three months ago and we all watched him slowly suffocate.
David’s illness had taken a massive financial toll on the family. So much so that David was using an outdated nebulizer to get precious medication into his lungs. Even a new $200 nebulizer was curbed, it was too much of a stretch. Dozens of upcoming surgeries were taking financial precedent.
That day we told David List Crawl Fund would be getting him a new nebulizer. In fact, we were giving him $25,000 to take care of his future surgeries, of which there would be dozens, maybe hundreds more.
But then something happened after his 150th surgery…
David showed up at List Crawl last week. I hadn’t seen him in a month. For a moment I thought it was David’s younger brother, Dylan. Something was very different about David. He had filled out his 6’4″ frame, his color was good, and he was laughing – the sort of deep belly laugh that would require a lot of oxygen. What’s going on?
Two days before his 24th birthday, David was told he needed another surgery, his 150th. David was going to spend his cake day in a hospital bed. David signed and took a breath, “Ok, let’s do it.”
When David woke up he saw his nurse, Chrissy, standing at the foot of the bed smiling. “I have some good news,”
David replied, “Tell me I’m getting a recovery room with a view this time.”
“Better. Much better.”
Chrissy explained they had taken a biopsy of his lungs and it showed no signs of disease, infection, or inflammation. It was possible, even probable, that David was in remission. David looked out the window and smiled. It was his 24th birthday.