Altruistic Living Kidney Donor Running in Chicago Half Marathon

September 19, 2016

Team Kidney Raising Awareness of Kidney Disease – Taking the Fight to the Finish Line

For Team Kidney member Dave Carpenter, running is no longer a hobby, it’s a responsibility. As a living kidney donor, Dave now runs with a purpose: to show others that you can give the ultimate gift, the gift of life, and still lead an active and healthy life. This is the message he hopes to promote by running the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, September 25th with Team Kidney in support of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois.

As a recreational runner for most of his life, Dave wants to show the world that being a living donor has not slowed him down. He explains, “People who learn that I donated a kidney are generally full of questions about the process. I want them to know it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The best proof I have of that is continuing to run races, climb mountains, tackle other physical challenges.”

Dave first became aware of the need for living kidney donors through a Facebook message from a friend suffering from kidney failure. He knew he had to do what he could to try and help his friend, so he went through the testing process at University of Chicago Medicine. He was a match, but he wasn’t chosen, as another living donor had stepped up first. Somewhat let-down, he decided a couple months later to donate his kidney anyway. This time, to a stranger.

He reached out to University of Chicago Medicine again to find out who he could donate to anonymously. “Throughout the process, it was such a pleasure to work with David. His willingness and motivation enabled him to participate in the paired exchange and due to his act of altruistic generosity, he sparked a chain of transplants helping numerous patients in need. We hope he will continue to inspire others” said Ali Grange, BSN, RN Living Kidney Donor Nurse Coordinator.

When asked why he decided to be an altruistic donor, Dave says “I'd already gotten over the initial mental hurdles of donating and the numbers were just too compelling for me to walk away: more than 100,000 people waiting for kidneys, 5,000 of them dying every year while waiting, just a 0.06% risk of death for the living donor.”

Now, he looks back on the experience as the most gratifying thing he’s ever done.

“Aside from a not-huge scar on my abdomen alongside an old one from my appendectomy, I can't detect any physical evidence that I ever did this. But the psychic evidence is huge. Donating a kidney is easily one of the best things I have ever done and I would do it again if I could. You don't have to be a superman (or superwoman) to do this – I’m proof of that. I hope someday it will become much more commonplace to donate kidneys. For me, it was a small price to pay for a huge reward.”

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois will have a team of six dedicated runners participating in the Chicago Half Marathon & 5K, raising funds and awareness for a common cause: to end kidney disease. Dave has already raised more than $1,200 for the team. To view his fundraising page and track his progress, visit


About the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois
The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois improves the health and well-being of people at risk for and affected by kidney disease through prevention, education and empowerment.