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Man loses 175 pounds to donate kidney to sister, keeps it off

His 13-year-old sister was on dialysis for years, he wanted to help her -- and himself.
/ Source: TODAY

For most of his life, Jonathan Coronado was what he considered a “big boy,” but he never felt motivated to lose weight. That is until his 13-year-old sister, Denise, needed his help.

Denise had a rare blood disorder called Henoch-Schonlein purpura that inflames the small blood vessels in the intestines and kidneys. And, it was causing her kidneys to fail. For four years, she was on dialysis as she slowly became sicker. Doctors said a new kidney was the only way to allow her to have a normal childhood. Coronado was a match to be a kidney donor, but at 365 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches tall, he was too overweight to be considered.

“I would never look at myself in the mirror,” Coronado, 31, a mechanic in Dallas, told TODAY. “We took a picture at my wedding and my wife posted it on Facebook and I got upset because she posted it … I didn’t know I was that big.”

When Jonathan Coronado weighed 365 pounds he avoided mirrors and pictures because he did not want to face how overweight he became. Courtesy Jonathan Coronado

Coronado decided to lose weight to help his sister. He said he started simply by watching what he ate and cutting out one thing at a time, such as soda, cookies or bread.

“I learned as I went," he said. "The more I lost weight the more I got confident and doing more workouts. (Healthy) diets just became a habit."

He also added more movement into his life. Again, he set moderate goals, beginning by just walking around a local park.

During the first six months, he said he shed 100 pounds, which was his original goal. But, once he saw success, he continued to push himself.

“I felt like I needed to lose more, so I just re-adjusted my diet and calorie intake,” he said.

He started to lift weights and do more cardio activity at the gym, while making sure to eat homemade meals instead of fast food. Coronado lost another 60 pounds and felt great, but learned he needed to shed just a bit more to qualify as a donor for Denise.

“I went all the way down to 195 pounds and that’s when I was eligible for donation,” he said.

After losing 170 pounds by moving more and eating fewer things, such as soda and cookies, Jonathan Coronado lost 170 pounds. Courtesy Jonathan Coronado

He donated his kidney on September 10, 2018 and returned home the next day. While Denise faced a longer recovery, she is now thriving. She’s a straight-A student and won a scholarship after a high score on a standardized test.

“It was life changing for her. She started to be more happy,” Coronado said. “She is starting to go out and have fun and do the things she couldn’t do when she was in dialysis … It makes me happy to see her that way.”

While he feels grateful he could help his sister in such a meaningful way, he feels proud that he lost the weight and kept most of it off. Since surgery, his weight has stabilized at 200 pounds.

“You have to really want to do it if you want to lose weight,” he said. “It was easy when I wanted to.”

Coronado shares advice for others hoping to lose weight.

1. Eliminate just one thing at a time

If Coronado had eliminated all unhealthy foods from his diet at once, it would have been challenging to stick with it. By cutting out one thing at a time, he could start a healthy habit and become consistent with it before removing another food.

“Just change one thing,” he said. “When people start losing weight, they delete everything. Just start slowly. It will make a difference.”

2. Do it for you

While Coronado likes that he helped Denise, he knew that he would not have lost the weight if he didn’t want to do it for himself.

By losing 170 pounds, Jonathan Coronado was able to donate a kidney to his sister, Denise, who had a rare disease that caused her to be on dialysis. Now the 13 year old can have a normal childhood. Courtesy Jonathan Coronado

“I did it for her and for myself. I wanted to do it for myself, but it could also benefit her,” he said. “I just did it for the both of us.”

3. Be consistent

While he was losing weight, Coronado often weighed himself to see his progress. He keeps a tight workout schedule that he repeats day after day. This helps him stay on track and keep the weight off.

“I go to the gym, do 45 minutes of weight lifting and I do 30 minutes of cardio four days a week and come home and go to sleep and then wake up and do it all over,” he said.