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LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) – For years, a local Santa has asked kids what they want for Christmas, but now he needs something for himself. Something that could save his life.

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Medical problems years ago inadvertently made Ott Quarles from Lower Burrell even more perfect for his role of Santa.

“I was taking medicines, and the medicines turned my hair white,” said Quarles.

Photo Credit: (KDKA)

But it was sugar diabetes, first diagnosed in his thirties, that eventually dealt him a tough blow.

“My kidneys were failing and they said its inevitable that I’m going to be on dialysis.”

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Doctors told him he needed a transplant.

Cranberry Township, where he works, wrote about him needing a donor. His granddaughter made signs for the family’s vehicles stating that Santa needs a miracle.

He also had to trim down from 330 pounds.

“I had to lose about eighty pounds to be able to be on the transport list because my health wasn’t good enough to be able to do the transplant,” said Quarles.

Eventually, a fraternity brother from college volunteered to be a living donor and after some testing: “He came to Pittsburgh and we’re a match. After 45 years, he was my big brother in college and now he’s a true big brother.”

Quarles continues: “I’ve thanked him umpteenth times and it’s just not enough. I don’t know what else to do. I mean, he’s given me my life back.”

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Quarles will have his surgery at UPMC Montefiore on Jan. 8.

David Highfield