Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr., in his 11th year as the leader of Long Island’s largest village, expects to be even more of a driving community force following his successful kidney transplant last week.
Hall, 69, was diagnosed with what he called “a deadly kidney illness” 43 years ago and has been on dialysis since 2011. Years of waiting for a donation match ended last Friday when he received a transplant.
“I am blessed to get this second chance at a full life,” he said in a telephone interview Monday.
He had been no wilting flower before the surgery, running several marathons in a year, even while undergoing dialysis. All of it has better prepared him to run for office again, he said.
“The doctor told me I was a good candidate for this transplant because my heart is in such good condition,” Hall said. “Now . . . I won’t have to do the weekly series of dialysis next year during this campaign.”
Hall was on his way to a meeting at the Hempstead Democratic Club on Thursday evening with his son when he got the call saying a match had been found, he said. “They told me I should get up there within the next three hours,” he said.
A friend drove the mayor, his son Wayne Hall Jr. and his wife, Derrah, to Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut for the surgery. He and Derrah married in 1978 — five years after he was told he would probably be dead by then, Hall said. She knew the odds and married him anyway, he said.
The operation by Dr. David C. Mulligan, head of the Yale New Haven Transplantation Center, “took four-and-half hours instead of the promised two,” Hall said. “There were some complications.”
He said the donor was a 69-year-old male, whose family he would like to thank in person if and “when I’m allowed to do so.”
Within a day of the procedure, Hall was posting on Facebook and Twitter that he was recovering well. He said Monday he feels pretty good and is “hardly sore.”
Hall’s secretary, Michelle Banks, said that while he “seldom slowed down,” the successful transplant “is a big weight lifted from him, and I’m so happy for him.”
Deputy Mayor Luis Figueroa, who returned from a two-week vacation on Sunday, will fill in for Hall while he recovers.
“I’ll just follow the course that’s set,” Figueroa said. “That way things will run nice and smooth, I think.”
Hall said he hopes to be back at work full time in the next month.
Republican James Garner, Long Island’s first black mayor, who served for 16 years in Hempstead until his defeat by Democrat Hall in 2005, clapped his hands when he heard about Hall’s successful transplant.
“Man, I’m really happy for him,” said Garner, now Nassau County deputy comptroller. “We chatted a bit a few weeks ago, when we ran into each other up in Saratoga. He looked a little peaked, but was in good spirits.”
State Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, (D-Hempstead), who has occasionally disagreed with Hall, said she wished “all the best for him and his continued good health.”
Hall said he has long thought it good to give people a second chance and will continue to practice that, “especially now since I have a better idea of what that means.”