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Patient on the mend

A Fargo man who had both lungs replaced eight days ago could be released from the hospital as early as Monday, his father said Friday. Jack Keller, 25, received a double lung transplant Oct.

A Fargo man who had both lungs replaced eight days ago could be released from the hospital as early as Monday, his father said Friday.

Jack Keller, 25, received a double lung transplant Oct. 15 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"He's really on some heavy anti-rejection medication now, but the doctors have said he's just doing amazingly well, so we're just thrilled about that," said his father, Gary Keller of Minot, N.D.

Jack Keller was diagnosed two years ago with primary pulmonary hypertension, a rare and potentially life-threatening illness that affects one out of every 500,000 people.

The disorder arises when pressure in the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs rises above normal, according to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

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Keller was moved from intensive care to Mayo's step-down ward Wednesday.

After he's released from the clinic, he will live with his mother, Marlys, at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, returning to Mayo each day for therapy.

Gary Keller said he expects his son to return to Fargo around Jan. 15.

An estimated 400 to 500 people attended a silent auction for Jack Keller Thursday evening.

Some money had yet to be collected Friday, but organizers were "very pleased" with the community support, said Cory Thompson, assistant vice president at First International Bank and Trust in Fargo, where Jack Keller works as a computer technician.

"It exceeded our expectations," Thompson said.

During the benefit, organizers showed a video of Jack Keller speaking from his hospital room. Gary Keller said his son thanked everyone for their support and told them his faith in God pulled him through the difficult ordeal.

"And (he asked) for people to continue to pray, because he's got a long way to go yet," Gary Keller said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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