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Former Marines, a Chiefs fan and Eagles fan, bond over kidney donation

Chiefs and Eagles fan
Posted at 12:56 PM, Feb 01, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not all bonds form immediately.

“My first impression of him was, 'Man, this guy’s mean," said Billy Welsh, a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Welsh and John Gladwell first met more than 20 years ago during their time serving in the United States Marine Corps.

“I was leaving," Gladwell, a Kansas City Chiefs fan, said. "He was coming and motivated, and I was just wanting to come home."

After going their separate ways, the two remained connected through Facebook.

It was through a Facebook post that Gladwell found out Welsh had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.

“It just took over my kidneys and I put a message out on Facebook, and I was like, 'Hey, anybody got a spare kidney laying around I can have,'" Welsh said.

After seeing the post, Gladwell got tested to see if he'd be able to donate his and it turned out he was a 99% match.

“You never leave a brother behind," Gladwell said. "Marines are a band of brothers. I mean, there’s only like a couple thousand of us as opposed to the Army. Navy, they have millions. And they beat it in our heads, you don’t leave someone behind."

Days before needing dialysis, Gladwell and Welsh had surgery at the Nicoletti Kidney Transplant Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

“It was just small talk like, 'You ready? Are you ready to do this?' and we gave a little fist bump," Welsh said, "and the rest is history."

Gladwell's one kidney could do what Welsh's two kidneys could not.

“It's because of where the kidney comes from," Gladwell said, referring to Chiefs Kingdom.

With the Chiefs and Eagles set to meet Feb. 12 in Super Bowl LVII, Welsh, the longtime Eagles fan, has a piece of Chiefs Kingdom inside of him.

“Now there’s a battle going on in my body like, 'Does my kidney not want to work, because if the Eagles win, it’s just going to go on strike?'" said Welsh.

It's nothing but friendly banter from here on out. The two went from being opposites to nearly a perfect match.

This article was written by McKenzie Nelson for KSHB.