Transplant Patient Gets New Heart, New Calling
Posted October 30, 2003 2:38 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Heart disease kills nearly 20,000 people in North Carolina each year, but every day, there are stories of survivors who beat the odds. One young man who did is now giving back to others.
It takes a special touch to work with heart patients. It is a kind of compassion that comes naturally to Zack Cook, because he has been in their shoes.
"I'm the only one who can say I know how it feels," he said.
Less than a year ago, Cook was a carefree college student. A virus attacked his heart during Christmas break, destroying it.
Cook was told he needed a heart transplant. He was so sick, he barely remembers the day he got his new heart.
"I was so out of it my mom had to sign the waiver form for me to have surgery," he said.
Cook received his new heart on March 1. Eight months later, he can be found on the heart floor at Duke Medical Center -- not as a patient, but as a nursing assistant.
"It helps them out and it gives me a chance to give back," he said.
Cook said he uses his experience to motivate others and plans to become a registered nurse and work with cardiac patients.
Cook said his transplant changed his life for the better.
"I don't feel any different. In fact, I feel better now than I did," he said.
You can help raise money for heart disease treatments and research Sunday during the
Triangle Metro American Heart Walk
Registration begins at 2 p.m. at the Imperial Center in Research Triangle Park. The walk starts at 3 p.m. For more information call (919) 463-8300.