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On the Road to Recovery Family, Friends Stage Concert to Ease Costs for Transplant Recipient

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Jeff Marsingill's weight is down, but his spirits are up.

After suffering with cystic fibrosis for most of his life, Marsingill, 36, of Buford, received a lung transplant on Aug. 16 at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The operation was a success: He has bid goodbye to the oxygen tank he was tethered to for months. And he can take a full, deep breath for the first time since he was in his 20s.

"I've got some complications, but they say that everybody does," he said.

He has dropped about 10 pounds since the surgery. "Everybody says that you can't judge how you are for about a year."

One thing that hasn't changed for Marsingill is his financial obligations. His life-saving operation cost more than $300,000, most of which is covered by Medicare. Although he is on disability, he's still responsible for part of the cost of his treatments and for many medications.

This afternoon, Marsingill's friends and family, who organized the Help Jeff Fund, are teaming up with Know-It-All Records of Tacoma, Wash., to stage "Jeff Jam 2003." The multi-artist, mega-concert takes place in the old shoe factory in Buford, former site of an antiques mall, now known as the Tannery Row Mercantile Center.

The event is free, but those attending are encouraged to make a donation to help defray Marsingill's expenses.

Doors open at 4 p.m. The show starts rocking at 5:30 p.m., with performances by Seattle hip-hop star Lazarus, the 1980s revisionists Hill Valley Preservation Society, acoustic rockers Tumbledown and Jason's Alibi, among others. A dance party will follow the last act.

Jeremy Kennedy, Marsingill's 32-year-old cousin, has been instrumental in making the concert happen. He said he was posting messages on all Web sites featuring 1980s music when Michael Sutton, a writer for the All-Music Guide, contacted him. The two teamed up to help create Jeff Jam.

This won't be the first time that people have raised money to help Marsingill and his family. There have been auctions, bake sales, a beauty pageant, gospel singing, and the Legion of Sasquatch Hayride in October. The various fund-raisers, many organized by Buford Church of God, where Marsingill is a member, have netted about $50,000.

Kennedy says he's hoping that Jeff Jam will raise at least $10,000.

"I'm just blown away by how people have worked for me," said Marsingill. "My family and me, we didn't know what to do about the cost of everything, so we prayed and we put the need out there, and people went with it."

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 2, Marsingill lives at home with his parents, David and Jo Ann. He has a brother and sister, neither of whom has cystic fibrosis. Until he was in his 20s, Marsingill said, the disease wasn't that difficult to deal with. He started lifting weights when he was 12, and at Buford High School, he played wide receiver on the football team. Even five years ago, he could play volleyball.

Marsingill worked for 11 years at Heraeus Tenevo, a company in Buford that makes quartz glass products used by other businesses such as those involving fiber optics. His symptoms eventually became so pronounced --- he could barely breathe --- that he had to quit in 2000 and go on disability.

Now, he's hoping he's on the road to full recovery. He walks, drinks "tons of water" and takes his medications. He's also eating well to build up more iron in his blood. And he is back in the gym.

And he's resting, praying and looking forward to the day he can live on his own.

"I'm not even going to judge how I am for a year," he said. "It takes a year for everything to work out."

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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