David Cosner, 23, has had 136 lung surgeries. Two thirds of his right lung has been removed, and he was put in a medically-induced coma. In the past six years he has had to relearn how to walk twice.
Cosner, marketing junior, was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a chronic inflammatory condition, on his 17th birthday in September 2006. The condition causes breathing airways to swell and sections of the lungs to close. Wegener’s Granulomatosis can result in pneumonia or severe lung infections if not treated immediately.
Since being diagnosed with the chronic illness, Cosner has struggled to maintain good health while developing a unique attitude throughout his career as a student at Texas State.
There is no cure for the chronic inflammatory condition. Cosner has had to rely on accommodations from the Office of Disability Services because of frequent hospitalization over the course of his college career. He said some of the accommodations include excuses for tardiness or absences and a pass allowing him to park anywhere on campus.
During a Feb. 18 ODS meeting, Cosner was invited to share his experience as a student receiving help from them. Cosner said Clint-Michael Reneau, director of the ODS, and Sherri Benn, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, visited him while in a medically-induced coma last November.
“They were shocked at how I looked,” Cosner said. “(Reneau and Benn) really just wanted to reach out and tell me that they were there for me—and have been ever since I got out of the hospital.”
Doctors gave him a 20 percent chance of waking up when he was put into the coma to treat a serious staph infection in his lung. He lost approximately 60 pounds during the 28 days of hospitalization.
“I had to learn how to walk, stand up, hold utensils and brush my teeth again,” Cosner said. “A lot of people don’t remember walking for the first time, and I’m 23 years old and have had to learn how to three times in my life.”
He channeled his frustration with his condition by starting the Texas State University Bass Cats fishing team. It was another way to be competitive and fill the void that Wegener’s left after he was forced to give up lacrosse in high school, Cosner said.
Steven Green competed alongside Cosner on the Bass Cats before graduating. He said Cosner has never been one to use Wegener’s as an excuse.
“It’s one of those scenarios where it’s probably going to take a toll on anyone,” Green said. “But I think fishing, friends and family are what grounds David.”
Cosner said he would sum up his attitude toward his condition as “determined” or “headstrong.”
“There’s a lot of people that will mourn the fact that they’ve lost their health,” Cosner said. “That’s just not the way to go about it. I’m going to beat this disease and fight it with everything I’ve got.”
Robert Konopaske, associate professor at the McCoy College of Business Administration, said he got to know Cosner through his visits during office hours and class participation. Through their interactions outside of class, Konopaske said Cosner shared his condition in a “matter of fact” way, and he maintained an excellent attitude as a student.
“Because of his condition (Cosner has) built a great deal of internal strength and courage to tackle any challenge that comes his way,” Konopaske said.
As for the future, he plans to continue following his doctor’s directions and taking care of his health. He has been desensitized to death because of the challenge of facing it so many times in his life, Cosner said.
“If I were to die tomorrow, then would I be happy with my life?” Cosner said. “The answer is ‘yes.’ I wish pain and suffering on no man, but on the same token I’ve learned things that I wouldn’t trade.”