At 24, Jeff Darger should be planning his future. Instead, he is fighting for survival as a rare disease attacks his lungs and heart.

Diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension in November 1993, Darger has progressively lost the ability to move. The disease causes the blood vessels in his lungs to harden, preventing them from expanding and contracting normally. Any amount of physical exertion can be extremely difficult and harmful.Darger's physical health was perfect as a child and young adult. Darger, his two sisters, his brother and his parents, Brent and Kathy Darger, have lived in West Jordan since Darger was a child. Prior to his diagnosis, he was a student at Salt Lake Community College and an employee of Cyprus Credit Union in West Jordan.

Other than the disease he now suffers, Darger's health is good. For this reason, he is considered a good candidate for transplant surgery, and he was placed on a transplant list in May. He remains motivated and courageous, and doctors believe a heart and double-lung transplant would be successful in saving his life.

The average wait for such a transplant is nine months. Darger wears a life pager at all times, and when organs become available, he will be paged. The surgery will take place in Denver, and travel expense plus the expense left uncovered by insurance could reach $200,000.

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Colleen Mason, a life-long neighbor and friend of the Darger family, has set up a transplant fund committee to provide financial aid the Darger family. The committee, "Friends of Jeff," has organized several benefits to raise money for the surgery.

A fund-raiser was held at the West Jordan City Park main pavilion on Aug. 19. A garage sale at the Kearns fire station, 5400 S. 4444 West, on Sept. 9 will also benefit Darger's fund. A wide variety of items will be sold, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks.

Direct deposits to the fund can also be made at the garage sale or at the Cyprus Credit Union branches in West Jordan, Midvalley or Magna. Donations should be directed to the Jeff Darger Transplant Fund.

For more information or volunteer opportunities, contact Colleen Mason at 566-0842.

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