Planking Grandpa

January 23, 2019
Max Ozor

This year, 83-year-old Max Ozor celebrates his 20th year with a new heart, which he received at South Carolina’s only heart transplant hospital, the MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center.

Ozor knows he’s a lucky man. “It’s the mystery of life to feel this good!” Ozor, locally known as the “planking grandpa” for his ability to hold the exercise position for 15 minutes, was once close to death due to congestive heart failure. Over the course of two decades, he had a series of heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, and was on the waiting list for a heart transplant. In 1999, he received a donor heart transplant at MUSC Health.

In September of 2018, the Mount Pleasant, South Carolina man joined other heart patients and supporters at the Lowcountry Heart Walk. The annual event raises money to help fight heart disease and stroke. Ozor had a particular interest in one aspect of that day: competing in a planking contest. He started planking after reading about another area athletic octogenarian who had won a planking contest after holding the pose for 11 minutes.

Ozor began to build up his endurance, adding planking to an exercise routine that already included an unusual way to travel the five or so miles from Mount Pleasant to the MUSC Health Transplant Center in downtown Charleston: walking across the Ravenel Bridge.

MUSC Health Heart Failure Chief Dr. Ryan Tedford applauds Ozor’s healthy lifestyle and encourages others to get help like Ozor did. “Right now, only a small fraction of patients in South Carolina who have heart failure get a heart transplant or heart pump,” Tedford says. “It’s a lot less than in other states. We’re not reaching everyone who could benefit from these therapies.”

The MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center has seven of the state’s nine heart failure-certified cardiologists. “We have so many interventions and medications to not only prolong the patient’s life but make them feel better and actually improve the heart function,” Tedford says.

Ozor is open about the fact that he was not always healthy. He drank too much alcohol and smoked. “My lifestyle was awful,” he says. Not anymore. “I have a 33-inch waist now, and it was 32 when I was younger. I couldn’t imagine feeling better.”

Each year, gifts from people like you help us keep patients like Mr. Ozor and more than 39,000 others alive, active, and in better cardiovascular health.

Keywords: Patient Story