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St. Louis pastor donating kidney to save brother's life

"At Barnes-Jewish Hospital the wait time for a kidney transplant is around 3 years,” said Dr. Jason Wellen.

ST. LOUIS — How far would you go to save a loved one’s life? That's a question we were asked by Pastor Cedric Halbert who is practicing what he preaches.

A trucker by trade, 62-year-old Ernest Adams Jr. now starts and ends his week parked in a chair tethered to a machine.

"I've been driving for about 38-years now,” said Ernest Adams Jr. “I can't drive while I'm on dialysis."

Ernest has been undergoing dialysis treatments three times a week since 2020, when a team of doctors at BJC gave him an unsettling prognosis.

"While dialysis is a bridge for life it's certainly not a long-term answer,” said Dr. Jason Wellen, Washington University kidney transplant surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “Ultimately, renal failure would have taken his life."

"Everything is downhill from there,” said Adams Jr. “My whole life changed."

Ernest immediately was placed on the transplant list, but he still faced an uphill battle.

"At Barnes-Jewish Hospital the wait time for a kidney transplant is around three years,” said Dr. Wellen.

"You know I was in denial for a little while,” said Adams Jr.

He sought help from seemingly everyone he knew to try and find a match.

"Living donor transplants do the best,” said Dr. Wellen. “Those are your best chance of having a kidney that's going to last the rest of your life."

In November of 2021, Ernest’s brother Cedric got a phone call he'll never forget.

"When she told me it was like the world stood still,” said Cedric Halbert. “I said really, I'm a match?"

"Cedric is truly saving the life of his brother,” said Dr. Wellen.

"This is like a gift, or a new life, that's how I take it,” said Adams Jr.

There are admittedly some nerves ahead of their surgery on April 19.

"I'm looking at this as helping my brother, and showing some brotherly love, but this is ministry,” said Halbert.

"I don't even know how to compensate him for being such a good man,” said Adams Jr.

That's why they're hoping their story inspires others to join the living donor registry.

"Don't give up,” said Halbert.

"Never say never,” said Adams Jr.

According to Dr. Wellen, roughly 20% of the transplant surgeries at BJC come from living donors.

If you’re interested in becoming a living donor it all starts with a simple blood test.

For more information about being a living donor click here.

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