What's in your water?
To donate to Roy Hall’s medical expenses, visit gofundme.com/9qk6mg8c.
Update: After testing, it was determined that Roy Hall's sister could not donate. Therefore, the Halls are looking for another donor.
Three times each week, Roy Hall makes the trek from his Lula home to Fresenius Dialysis Center in Gainesville for dialysis. Hall, who is in stage five kidney failure, is waiting for a kidney transplant — which hopefully will happen later this year.
At the dialysis center, Hall is hooked to a machine for almost four hours while it takes his blood out, cleans it and puts it back in his circulatory system.
“In the beginning it was tough,” he said. “My body had to adjust to my blood going and coming back and I felt kind of washed out.”
He now takes protein supplements two to three times a day and pills for high phosphorus levels in addition to his 10 other medications.
“Other than that, it does a pretty good job of keeping me alive,” he said during an interview from the comfort of his home Wednesday.
DIAGNOSIS AND DIALYSIS
Hall’s been going in for dialysis since February 2015 to combat his kidney failure. He found out about his kidney failure just prior to that. The 57-year-old went to his doctor for a regular checkup since he has type 2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes. His blood work from the appointment showed high potassium levels. The doctor’s office called Hall at home and told him to go to urgent care to have it rechecked. The second test revealed elevated potassium levels and he was immediately sent to the hospital for treatment. Roy said he was told if potassium levels are too high, it can cause a heart attack.
Hall was then referred to a nephrologist — a doctor who specializes in kidney care — and waited several months for his appointment. By the time he met with that doctor, Hall was in stage 3 kidney failure — meaning he had moderate kidney damage.
According to the National Kidney Foundation 10 to 40 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes eventually suffer from kidney failure. But the doctor believes Roy’s high blood pressure damaged his kidneys. That information surprised Hall.
“(I) didn’t know that high blood pressure would kill your kidneys,” he said. “I should have done a better job, maybe changed doctors or something.”
Now, Hall is in stage 5. His wife, Sharon, said his kidney is now only functioning at 8 percent.
With his kidneys in such poor shape, Hall needs a transplant. He hopes to receive a kidney transplant in the coming months. Hall traveled to Emory Hospital in Atlanta where he underwent extensive testing to make sure he is a good candidate for the procedure.
Hall’s younger sister, Karen Hall, 53, recently volunteered to donate one of her kidney’s to Roy. Most people can live normal lifestyles with one kidney.
She was scheduled to undergo similar testing Friday at Emory to see if she is healthy enough to donate. Roy said she’s already had preliminary blood work done and thinks she’s a match. A kidney match is when the donor and patient have a compatible blood type.
Roy and Karen have always been close and are a lot alike, he said.
“It seemed like a natural thing,” he said. “I haven’t really spoken to any of my family to ask them because that’s something I felt you just don’t ask ... it’s a very personal decision that someone has to make on their own.”
Karen said she’s a little nervous about the potential surgery and making sure everything goes well for her brother.
“I wanted him to have a better quality of life, not to mention he’s my brother,” the Gainesville woman said of her decision to donate a kidney.
She said she never saw herself doing this, but after experiencing the need in her own family she said she wouldn’t hesitate to do something like this again or encourage others to consider it as well.
The results from Friday’s tests will be available in four to six weeks.
“Then after that, they tell me, it goes pretty fast,” Roy Hall said. “Probably within a month or two they schedule (the transplant).”
Roy credits his faith for keeping him positive through this process.
“I know that my life is in God’s hands and he decides who dies and who doesn’t,” he said. “If it’s my time to go, there’s nothing stopping it.”
At times Roy admits to being nervous. One example is when doctors took a vein from his leg and moved it to his arm to aid with dialysis.
“But I’m just going downstream, I’m just doing whatever I have to do to survive,” he said.
One of Roy’s biggest supporters is his wife of 22 years, Sharon.
“She’s my home nurse,” he said.
Sharon is regularly involved in Roy’s care. She takes notes at his doctor’s appointment, talks to doctors and pharmacists, reminds him to take his medicine or checks his blood pressure.
She also updates Roy’s condition on social media and set up a www.gofundme.com account seeking donations to help with costs associated with his treatment. Money raised will go toward pre-transplant expenses, transportation costs, kidney donor expenses and household expenses. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/9qk6mg8c.
“One positive thing through the whole thing is that it has brought us closer and our family has rallied around us,” Sharon said of coping with Roy’s kidney disease.
“He’s just lovable,” Sharon said of her husband, adding he has a lot of integrity, is tenacious and loves God.
EDUCATION OF OTHERS
When he’s feeling up to it, Roy loves to tinker with cars. His friend, Stanley Jackson, owns Gainesville Transmission and Roy sometimes stops by to visit.
“I’ve always been physically strong since I was a kid ... I thought man I’m invincible. You don’t realize you’re not,” Roy said.
His current status is to stay healthy, but he wants to share his story with others.
“Obviously I don’t want to be where I’m at and had I known that before... people need to be educated,” he said. “If you have high blood pressure, you need to get it under control because this is where you end up.”