Known for being tough when it comes to issues he cares about, family and friends are hoping that toughness will help him recover.
Out of intensive care now, Senator Gallegos is in his own room at the Methodist Hospital with family, friends and colleagues never far away. He's reportedly having complications from a liver transplant he had five years ago.
His campaign office called his condition grave, but the atmosphere not necessarily somber.
"He's responding to people and laughing told a couple of jokes and obviously his circumstance is a tough one and he probably recognizes that," said State Rep. Garnett Coleman (D) of Houston. "But it being a tough one, the time we all have, you don't waste the time talking about that. You make sure you talk about the good times."
Rep. Coleman visited with Gallegos on Friday. The two have been friends for 20 years.
"Mario is a man with a big heart and superior spirit," said Coleman.
Coleman spoke to us, not to disrespect the family, but to honor his friend.
Once a longtime Houston firefighter, Gallegos entered the political arena 22 years ago, first as a state representative, then since 1994 as a state senator representing District 6. In fact, he was the first Mexican-American state senator elected in Harris County.
And as a politician, private matters are public. In 2006, he acknowledged he spent a month in residential treatment for alcoholism. The next year, he announced he has cirrhosis of the liver. A few days later, he received a liver transplant.
Gallegos ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, but faces Republican R.W. Bray in the November election.
A statement released Friday afternoon on his behalf read in part, "Senator Gallegos' family is at his side during this difficult time, and they have asked me to respectfully request that they be allowed their privacy, so that they may devote their undivided attention to their loved one."