MARATHON -- Bo Hall will spend much of Christmas Day this year connected to a home dialysis machine. His kidneys are failing, and he is forced to take 12 different medications daily.
Two months ago, Hall's domestic partner Alan Wendland was screened and determined to be a perfect kidney donor. But having a donor, at least in this case, is just one of many challenges.
While Medicare will cover the transplant costs, Hall and Wendland are spending the holidays trying to raise $10,000 to pay for expenses related to their operations in hope next year's holidays will be hospital-free.
"I'm very positive and will still enjoy myself," Hall said Monday from his Marathon home.
Wendland said he didn't think twice about being screened as a potential candidate.
"It was very exciting," Wendland said. "I was very happy. I had no hesitation to be tested. It was kind of a miracle."
The two have been together for four years and met in Key West at the time Hall's business, The Nassau House, was closing down. Any money saved between them since then has been spent traveling between Marathon and Miami for medical care.
For the transplant to proceed, Hall said he needs someone to take care of him and Wendland in the immediate weeks following the surgery. One of Wendland's friends from Madison, Wisc., Mary Kay Woolsey, has agreed to make the trip down to care for the two. That will entail taking them to doctor visits three times a week while they recover, which is at least a four-week process.
"They didn't realize this would be such a strung-out process," Woolsey said.
Woolsey, at times breaking into tears, explained that without money for the expenses, Hall may not live to see Christmas 2013.
"It's true," she said. "He needs this operation."
Woolsey said she is a Stage IV breast cancer survivor and understands what it takes to overcome tough medical times.
"It's great having a living donor," she said. "You don't have to worry about rushing to the hospital when your phone rings."
Wendland spends much time each day just helping Hall with his dialysis procedure, which provides an artificial replacement for lost kidney function. He said he has tasked himself with draining and replacing fluid bags. That process can take a couple of hours a day.
While Hall sleeps, the machine runs fluids in and out of him, Wendland said.
Hall's diet has also changed and doctors have taken him off of red meat. Hall, though, is no stranger to hospitals or transplants. He survived two liver transplants in the 1980s and '90s when he suffered from hepatitis. Wendland said the steady medications from the liver transplants have taken a toll on Hall's kidneys. Hall said he has a doctor's appointment in January and hopes he can schedule the procedure for February at the Miami Transplant Institute, which is affiliated with the University of Miami Medical Center.
Though Woolsey seemed a little worried about coming up with the minimum $5,000 it takes to begin the surgery, Hall was unfazed. He said he was once affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, where 96 percent of his position was fundraising.
"People are very generous," he said. "You have to get the word out and can't wait on people to come to you."
As of Monday, Hall had collected $320 after a couple of weeks of fundraising.
"We're not getting very far," Wendland said. "We need a push."
Wendland said the transplant could return life to a sense of normalcy.
"I've never had any surgery before," he said. "I'm more excited than nervous."
Hall said he is looking forward to traveling after the surgery once he is healed and can put some money away.
"Alan has been so wonderful," Hall said. "He has seen me at some horrible times.
To donate to Hall's fight, those interested may visit his website at www.giveforward.com/bosnewkidney.