Former CFLer donates lung to brother-in-law

Former CFL quarterback Chris Vargas calls the decision to donate part of a lung to his wife's brother a "no brainer".

Scott Haggard, 39, is the brother of Vargas' wife, Katie. He has suffered from cystic fibrosis for years. But the disease recently reached a critical stage where his only option was a transplant.

"He always had problems breathing," Vargas told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "But then he just started to turn real bad. He really took a turn for the worse.

"He just got the whole family together and told us, 'I need a lung transplant."'

So the 29-year-old Vargas stepped up, and doctors determined he was a match. Vargas underwent surgery Wednesday night at USC University Hospital in Los Angeles to donate part of his left lung.

One of Haggard's co-workers, Eric Casillas, of Whittier, Calif., donated part of his right lung.

"We were getting real discouraged trying to find another donor," said Vargas, who played for the Nevada-RenoWolf Pack from 1990-1993 before playing for the Edmonton Eskimos, the B.C. Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a five-year span.

"We had about 10 other donors all tested, and something would always come up and they would be rejected," he said. "But we finally found Eric."

All three were recovering Friday.

"The doctors said everything looks real good," Vargas said.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes the lungs to become lined with mucus.