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Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. returns to work after leave

After receiving a kidney transplant in August, Hempstead

After receiving a kidney transplant in August, Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr., standing, is back to work, presiding over a village meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Credit: Chuck Fadely

Wayne Hall Sr. has been defying the odds since he was 26 years old.

He wasn’t supposed to live to 31, much less win the Hempstead Village mayoral race in 2005 or receive a new kidney after a short 18 months on the transplant list.

But Hall, 69, has done all three — and on Tuesday he returned to Village Hall after his August transplant operation, nearly a month ahead of schedule.

On Tuesday, dressed in a blue suit with a blue and silver tie, the mayor presided over the village’s board of trustees meeting.

Hall fist-bumped those who came up to him after the meeting; he cannot shake hands and sometimes wears medical masks in public because his immune system was suppressed after the operation.

“I feel good,” Hall said after the meeting. “I’m glad to be back.”

Hall, a Democrat who plans to run next year for a fourth term, was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder — focal segmental glomerulosclerosis — in 1973.

Doctors gave him five years to live. Instead, he said, he got married in 1978, “the year that I was supposed to be out of here.”

Hall credits his commitment to exercise — he began running when he turned 40 — as a key part of his health.

In 2011, he went on dialysis, spending hours each week undergoing the procedure, which filters the blood and acts as an artificial kidney.

Despite the rigors of dialysis, the avid runner continued to exercise and even completed a half-marathon in May.

In 2014, Hall put himself on the transplant lists at several hospitals, expecting to wait at least five years for an organ.

But on Aug. 25, he got the call from Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut: They had a kidney for him.

The next day, after a 4 1⁄2-hour surgery, he had three kidneys in his body — his two original ones, and the healthy donor kidney.

“I’ve gotten a new lease on life,” Hall said during an interview in his office before Tuesday’s meeting. “The quality of life is day and night.”

He said he will write a letter to his donor’s family to thank them.

After serving as a village trustee for six years, in 2005 Hall bested the incumbent mayor, James Garner, in an upset. Garner, a Republican and Long Island’s first black mayor, had been running for his fifth term and was widely expected to win.

Hall said he will officially file for candidacy in next year’s mayoral race after the presidential election is over.

“Every time I run, they tell me I can’t win,” he said.

Village trustee Don Ryan, a Republican, plans to challenge Hall.

During his recovery from late August to the end of October, he kept abreast of village happenings and often looped into discussions with conference calls.

Deputy Mayor Luis Figueroa took over the day-to-day job running of the village in Hall’s absence.

“Everything fell into place. He’s done a good job, so it was easy to manage,” Figueroa said. “I’m glad to see him back, that’s for sure.”

Mayor Wayne Hall Sr.

  • 69 years old
  • Born in the Bronx to Jamaican immigrants, raised in Queens, moved to Hempstead Village in 1978
  • Served as a medic in the U.S. Army in Germany and Virginia
  • Was Hempstead Village trustee from 1999 to 2005, has been mayor since 2005

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