Brotherly love leads to giving and Thanksgiving

When Adams County resident Charles Walmer learned he had polycystic kidney disease, he received a kidney transplant in 2009 after waiting about 4 years. It took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Charles also made sure that his three adult children tested for this hereditary disease.

bill jerry

His son Bill was the only one who presented with it, but he would need a transplant.

It turned out that Bill’s brother Jerry was a good match. “At least 5 markers are required and Jerry and Bill had 10 matches. They were almost like twins,” said Bill’s mother Carol.

Before he died in 2001, Charles asked Jerry to take care of Bill. Jerry promised his father he would.

“You can want to or decide to give a kidney,” said Jerry. “I decided to.” Jerry is very humble about this tremendous gift. His mind was clearly set on helping his brother.

On March 1, 2022, Jerry gave a kidney to Bill at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. The transplant was conducted with a special procedure using stem cells to help prevent organ rejection.

Bill and Jerry agreed that divine intervention was at hand. “We were a 6/6 match for HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigens) and 12/12 for Stem,” he said.

Serendipitously, Dr. Matthew Cooper who performed the operation was also the doctor who performed Charles’s kidney transplant years earlier.

As the two-year anniversary of the transplant approaches, both Jerry and Bill are doing well. Bill says he’s drug-free as a result of the stem cell transplant used in the procedure. The technique is better for patient recovery and also allows the kidney to last longer.

While having varied interests and uniquely different personalities, Bill and Jerry had a typical sibling relationship. They were born 16 months apart. They both attended school in the Upper Adams School District. Bill was in Boy Scouts and Jerry played football.

“Jerry is so modest but I am so grateful and appreciative,” said Bill. “I’m here today for my kids because of this amazing gift.”

The two brothers agreed that they would do it all over again.

Jerry Walmer (left). Bill Walmer with his wife Vendy, before the transplant.

Amy is a freelance writer and reporter. She, her husband, and her two children reside in Adams County. She works in early childhood education and occupational therapy, and volunteers with local organizations.

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Bill Tilton
Bill Tilton
4 months ago

As their great uncle, I am extremely proud of these boys and have admired how they dropped everything to make this happen. Their father got an extra ten years with us all by getting a transplant, but he was heavily dependent on anti-rejection drugs that ultimately contributed to his death. This won’t happen to Bill, thanks to the stem cell advances in medicinel.

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