'5-pound therapy' for ailing college angler

AUSTIN, Texas — All bass anglers would agree that catching a 5-pounder makes them feel good, but for David Cosner, the feat is much more than a good feeling.

Cosner calls that feeling “5-pound therapy” which helps him deal with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare disease that causes the inflammation of blood vessels which restricts blood flow and damages major organs of the body.

Diagnosed with the disease when he was 17 years old, Cosner has been battling the disease that has attacked his lungs for more than eight years.

Cosner, 25, has had two-thirds of his right lung removed and undergone 217 procedures to clean out his lungs. He has been in a coma twice, had to learn how to walk again three times and has endured four rounds of chemotherapy.

The Texas State University Bass Cats club member has to use a special nebulizer with a bronchodilator three times a day to open up his lungs. That’s only a temporary fix, so doctors frequently have to resort to interventional bronchoscopy, a procedure in which a scope is inserted into Cosner’s lungs to open airways so oxygen can reach the lobes.

Prone to lung infections, Cosner has been stricken with two infections that have sent him into a coma. His first coma lasted for nine days and the second kept him comatose for 14 days.

Despite all of his ailments, Cosner still manages to go bass fishing and strives for that “5-pound therapy” to relieve his condition.

“It definitely gets tiring,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how tiring a whole day of fishing is. I often wonder how I did it for four or five days when I was sick. I just love the sport so much and it has given me so much in return. I credit it for saving my life in a way.”

When he was in high school, Cosner played lacrosse, but when he was stricken with the chronic vascular disorder, he lost 45 pounds and — with it — his strength to run. Unable to play lacrosse anymore, Cosner decided to focus on competitive bass fishing instead.

“I was always competitive and I had always fished bass tournaments with my dad since I was in middle school,” he said. “Once I couldn’t run anymore, I really needed a place to throw my competitive spirit into and that is how I started the Texas State Bass Cats fishing team and re-found my love for fishing. So it is a way to put my life toward something else.”

The Texas State angler has competed in Carhartt Bassmaster College Series regional events and FLW college tournaments. The highlight of his college fishing career was in 2010 when he and his partner, Jay McCollum, finished second — and only 9 ounces from first — in the inaugural FLW college championship.

His disease has kept him from fishing some of his team’s events, but Cosner has one semester left at Texas State and he plans on fishing as many tournaments as possible during his final year.

“It has been a bittersweet thing for me,” he said. “I definitely put a lot of heart and sweat into making a college fishing team work, and then when I have to sit on the sidelines and watch it from afar it is difficult. But I definitely have been blessed to have some success on the college end of things.”

Texas State teammate Kevin Burke has known Cosner since 2009 and has supported his friend’s battle against the debilitating disease.

“David is one of the best fishermen I’ve been around,” said Burke. “He is so knowledgeable, and everywhere we go he smashes the fish. I remember a few years ago, a bunch of guys got together and we took a trip down to Falcon Lake. I think on one of his first casts or his first fish of the day he caught a 10-pounder. I think he even caught another giant the next day while everybody else was struggling. He just has a magic touch.”

Cosner said he hopes he still has that magic touch when he graduates from college.

“I definitely would still like to fish competitively,” he said. “I think all of us as bass fishermen once we get that competitive itch, it just stays with us. Something about that 6:30 blastoff just never gets old.”

There is no known cure for Wegener’s Granulomatosis, so Cosner will continue to endure medical procedures and possibly a lung transplant in the near future.

To help the Cosner family pay the medical bills, Burke has created a fundraising website for his friend. To help Cosner fight against Wegener’s, make a donation here.