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‘I was dead for six minutes’

Newport Coast resident says he spends much of his time contacting media outlets to tell his story, one he says shows that there’s hope for anyone who’s disabled.

June 02, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Oprah, Maury Povich, “Family Feud,” People magazine — 22-year-old Newport Coast resident David Koning has called them all dozens of times.

“A phone in my hands is a dangerous weapon,” he said.

Born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a condition that has effectively left him with half a functioning heart, Koning wants to tell his story to whoever will listen.

“I was born with half a heart. I’ve been through three open-heart surgeries. I have epilepsy. I was dead for six minutes,” he tells whatever receptionist, producer or journalist who picks up the phone.

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His parents estimate he makes about 10 calls a day and uses about 500 minutes a month to call newspapers, television stations, magazines, game shows and talk-show hosts like Steve Wilkos — anyone who will listen.

“I just want to get my story out there,” he said. “I want people to know, if they’re in trouble or have a kid with health problems, look at me. I have half a heart, I was dead for six minutes. There’s hope.”

Koning underwent three open-heart surgeries before he was 3. He went into cardiac arrest during the last procedure and was clinically dead for six minutes before doctors were able to bring him back to life. The incident left him with cerebral palsy. He also has epilepsy, and typically has about two seizures a month. Glaucoma affects his peripheral vision.

“He’s a our little miracle, he’s tenacious,” David’s dad, Chris Koning, said.

David Koning can’t drive because of his seizures and poor vision. He also can’t work — what would happen if he had a seizure on the job, his mother worries.

“I never know when a seizure is going to happen — it’s hard to deal with,” he said.

David Koning stays busy, working with children at his church and volunteering as a manager for the volleyball teams at Laguna Beach High School, and there’s all the phone calls he makes, of course.

“Even though he has a disability, he keeps busy,” Pam Koning said. “I think it shows you can be disabled and still serve and have a purposeful life.”

David Koning and his family have been on “Family Feud” twice after he called the show’s producers more than a dozen times. He’s also gotten free Los Angeles Clippers tickets from one of his numerous daily phone calls, although his mother disapproves.

“I don’t believe you should use your disability to get things,” Pam Koning said.

David Koning treats his daily phone calls like a regular 9-to-5 job, he said, calling over and over again until he gets someone on the phone.

“I don’t know what it is, but something has given him this zest for communication,” Chris Koning said.


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