SALT LAKE CITY -- Jared Bangerter admits he's a political junkie and that's why, even with a heart and double lung transplant looming in his future, he chose to intern for his uncle during this Legislative session.
The 27-year-old Centerville man was born with a heart defect that required reconstructive surgery when he was six months old. He had a pacemaker installed when he was in eighth grade.
All seemed to be going well until two years ago when he was playing baseball, and "I had a few fainting spells," Bangerter said.
A catheter inserted through a vein in his leg showed his pulmonary artery was much larger than normal.
"(In August 2010) I was told I had two years to live," Bangerter said. "I think they were wrong."
Bangerter is not on a waiting list for a double lung and heart transplant. No hospital in Utah does that type of transplant, so Bangerter would have to go out of state to one of the few facilities that does the procedure. Bangerter said that until the time comes for the transplant, he plans to continue to smile and work hard.
Shortly after he was diagnosed, he got married.
"Rachael is wonderful," Bangerter said about his wife.
Bangerter takes medication to help his heart and his lungs. He has given up baseball and other sports, "because I'm too competitive."
The Weber State University political science major learned about the internship program at the Legislature and approached his uncle, Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, about working with him this session.
"To be honest, I did have some thoughts about his health," Barrus said.
The two talked and decided to give it a go.
Bangerter is one of 71 interns working with the legislators.
Barrus has kept his nephew busy researching public land and energy issues.
"I send him home to his command center when I don't need him here," Barrus said.
Bangerter, who graduated from Viewmont High School, uses his home computer to do his research and then sends the information to Barrus and other legislators.
When the legislators meet to discuss the issues with other officials, Bangerter is the focal point, Barrus said.
"He is the one organizing us and has everything ready for us," Barrus said.
Barrus said most people have no idea about Bangerter's health issues. Barrus said having the young man work for him has been a "great opportunity for me."
Bangerter was already engaged in the political arena long before Barrus hired him as an intern. Barrus said:
"He's been sending me his opinions on different issues for a long time."