SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Saying that members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus are close would be an understatement. Take it from former chorister Ross Woodall.
“I joined the SF Gay Men’s Chorus back in 2003 and it’s kind’ve become my second family,” Woodall said.
This Christmas, Woodall is getting the best gift a person could ask for — his life, thanks to a fellow singer who’s donating a portion of his liver so Woodall can survive.
Ross found out he was HIV positive back in 1987. In 1996 the virus caused him to lose his sight. In 2015 he realized he was running out of time. That’s when he decided to ask the other members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus to donate half their liver. At first, no one who offered to donate was a match, until Dave Andrade joined the group.
Andrade joined the chorus in late 2015, just as Woodall was too weak to stay on.
Both men sing the same part, tenor; both play the accordion, their parents have the same nickname. The list goes on, as if they’ve known each other all their lives although they never met until after Woodall left. When Andrade heard Woodall’s story he decided to find out if he was a match and, it turns out, he was — in more ways than one.
Andrade and Woodall became fast friends and will undergo surgery to save Woodall’s life on Jan. 27.
“Ross is by all means deserving of this so I don’t see any reason why I should turn down this opportunity,” Andrade said.
“He’s taught me selflessness, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank him,” Woodall said.
Five years ago, Andrade decided to focus on his health — before he knew Woodall.
“I lost 50 pounds. I wouldn’t actually be eligible to donate this liver if I hadn’t lost this weight five years ago, so it’s just another strange thing to think about,” Andrade said.
Both Woodall and Andrade describe the Gay Men’s Chorus as a family, “Gay people often have their biological family and their logical family and if I can in any way contribute to that and show my love to the people who become my family, I have to do it,” Andrade said.
Andrade will perform in the Chorus’s annual Home For The Holidays concert. He says it started as a safe haven for the gay community who might not be with their families during Christmas.
Andrade will be singing a solo that Woodall sang more than a decade ago. Performances are at 5, 6, and 7 o’clock on Christmas Eve.