Randolph County father of child battling cancer in search of kidney

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Cholly Gilmer, a husband and father of three, is on the hunt for time.

“I’ve got a lot to live for and I’m trying to be here as long as I can for my family,” he said from his home last week.

A birth defect prevented his kidneys from growing with the rest of his body.

“After high school, I grew out of my kidneys and they began to fail,” he said.

His late mother gave him one of her kidney’s in 1991, which was 30 years ago. Most donated kidneys only last 10 to 15 years and now he’s looking for a new one.

“I want to be around for my family,” he said, especially for his kids; Jackson (10) and adopted siblings Jameson (3) and Henleigh (2). Henleigh has taught Gilmer a lot about living since being diagnosed last March with a brain tumor.

“She is a fighter; she’s gone through more than I could in a lifetime. It’s a lot to watch,” he said.

Her treatments just ended a few months ago and a clean first scan is promising but more are needed. Henleigh’s strength is what keeps Gilmer going through dialysis treatments three times a week.

“I don’t think things would have worked out this way, as good as it has, if she hadn’t come to us,” he said.

Gilmer was placed on the transplant list last year through Wake Forest Baptist. His health insurance will cover the transplant, including all the donor’s cost. Right now, it’s hunting for someone compatible.

“Even if you are not compatible, there is a swap program,” he said. “You can donate to someone who really needs a kidney and what Baptist will do is find me one so you can actually help two people.”

His direct siblings aren’t a match, but his faith and family are holding him tight as he waits.

“We are really strong together,” he said.

His blood type is O. If you are interested in donating contact Wake Health at livingdonation@wakehealth.edu or (336) 713-5685.

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