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posted: 6/29/2013 8:00 AM

Arlington Heights man promotes kidney donation

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Having only one kidney hasn't slowed John Cosentino down one bit. He rides 2,000 miles on his bike every year and to celebrate his 60th birthday last year, he spent a week hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

This weekend, he'll add another three miles to his workout regimen with a 5K celebrating the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois' Gift of Life Walk on Sunday in Chicago.

Cosentino, of Arlington Heights, donated his kidney to an anonymous recipient in November of 2009 and now he's walking to raise awareness among other possible donors that it can be done.

"I was looking for ways to up my level of giving so to speak," said Cosentino, who volunteers regularly to aid good causes. "I thought to myself, it's easy to give up your time and write a check; there must be some other way to give something back."

During a physical, Cosentino talked to his doctor about kidney donation and found that because of his good health, he was a possible candidate. He had lost a grandmother to diabetes, his father to renal cancer. And his sister is a nurse at kidney dialysis center, so he was well aware of the need.

A few months later, he was in surgery, part of a kidney donation chain that led to four people getting new kidneys that day. Cosentino never found out who received his kidney, but he said he likes it that way.

"The doctors told me after the donation that he was doing very well and I feel good just knowing that," he said.

Participating in the Gift of Life Walk is free. Those who raise $75 or more in donations will receive the official walk T-shirt. The walk starts at 9 a.m. at Soldier Field. People can sign up and start fundraising online at firstgiving.com/nkfi/.

"We all have two kidneys, but it's very possible to live a very healthy, productive life with only one kidney," Cosentino said . "I'd encourage anyone that is in good health to look into the possibility."

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