Health Team

Implant pumps new life into lobbyist's failed heart

Posted July 1, 2016 10:27 a.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2016 6:23 p.m. EDT

It's easy to take heart health for granted—until heart problems occur.

Fortunately, one of the top advances in medical technology in the last decade makes it possible to keep a failed heart pumping. One of those devices is keeping a man on the job in the North Carolina state legislature.

For the past 40 years, Jack Cozort has worked in state government as a lawyer and a judge. He also worked as a legislative liaison for former Gov. Jim Hunt and is now a lobbyist at the state General Assembly.

For 30 years, he's also lived with heart disease.

"I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure about 10 years ago," Cozort said. "Last year, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to continue because of my heart failure. I just didn't have the energy to do anything, you know."

Last December at Duke Hospital, the 66 year old received an implantable heart pump called LVAD, or left ventricular assist device.

Constantly powered by small batteries worn on the body or by household current, a small computer maintains proper blood flow through the heart to the rest of the body.

Cozort wears it all under his suit coat, and it's given him more energy than he's had in years.

"And so I'm back doing what I love doing, plus, when I finish my work here, I have time to do the hobbies I enjoy," Cozort said. "I fish, I shoot, I hike. I can walk a mile now without any difficulty."

The Mending Hearts Foundation asked implantable heart pump patients around the country to compete in a video contest—250 people competed to share their inspirational stories.

"They selected me as one of five patients nationwide to participate in the public awareness campaign about LVADs," Cozort said.

His story is simple: "I have my life back."

For many patients, the device is their remedy, but for Cozort, it's a bridge to a possible heart transplant.

It's already made him stronger and more able to endure the surgery and recovery.

As he awaits a donor heart, he continues educating and influencing lawmakers on behalf of his clients.

"I love working here. I love the political process. I love what happens here," Cozort said.

To see Jack Cozort’s – and the other top 5 video testimonials of LVAD implant patients with the Mended Hearts Foundation, click here.