Debbie Consoli is one of Winthrop High School’s greatest athletes, a high-scoring guard and excellent shortstop during the Ron Spinney Era in girls basketball and softball.
During her childhood in Winthrop, Debbie had the benefit of having an older brother, Jay Consoli, who loved sports and was quite comfortable bringing along his sister to compete against the boys and going head-to-head with her in backyard basketball games.
“The reason she plays basketball and softball so well is because of me,” says Jay Consoli, Debbie’s older brother, with a proud smile.
Joseph “Jay” Consoli, 51, graduated in 1980 from Winthrop High School and played varsity baseball. He attended Johnson and Wales University, a school known for its culinary arts program. He worked as a chef in the hospitality industry at hotels and restaurants and became a manager. He also worked in the alarm business.
At the age of 28, Jay Consoli experienced a serious medical situation with a kidney. Jay was in need of a kidney transplant and his mother, Diana, donated a kidney to her son.
“I’ve had that kidney for 23 years, which is really a long time for a transplanted kidney to last,” said Jay. “I felt good. I was able to work and lead a normal life. But my health declined in the past year or so and my kidney is only at the 15 percent function rate. You’re supposed to be over 20 percent so I needed a new kidney.”
And Debbie Consoli, the loving little sister who is now living in Florida, volunteered to donate a kidney to her brother for the operation.
A kidney donor must be in very good health and Debbie Consoli began an exercise and conditioning program. She’s been running regularly and eating a healthy diet.
“As soon as Debbie found out that her brother needed her, she started getting ready for this operation,” said Jay’s wife, Debbie. “She volunteered. She didn’t even give it a second thought. She said, ‘I’m going to give a kidney to Jay.’’’
On March 11, Jay will undergo kidney transplant surgery at Tufts Medical Center.
Jay is so grateful to his sister for her noble deed and lifesaving decision to donate a kidney.
“We’ve always been very close,” said Jay. “I
used to go to her all her games at Winthrop and at Emmanuel College. I remember she hit a big buzzer-beating shot in a huge game in high school. I love her. She wore No. 35 in basketball. Debbie’s been a great sister my whole life. I think, the gift that Debbie is giving, is amazing. She’s leaving everything – her job, her house, her pets, for six to eight weeks to be up here and give me life. She’s uprooting her life for me.”
Jay is equally grateful to his mother for her love and support and her gift of a kidney 23 years ago.
“She’s the type of mother who will do anything for her children. She loves us. We’re her life, Debbie and me.”
In a telephone interview from her residence in Palm Beach, Florida, Debbie Consoli, a food service manager at a correctional institution, said she responded immediately to her brother’s medical emergency.
“Everyone seems to be making a big deal about it, but I wouldn’t even give it a second thought – I would always do it for my brother,” said Consoli. “After my mom did it [donated a kidney] , I figured sooner or later one day I would have to do it. Some people have said they wouldn’t think about doing it. I wouldn’t think about not doing it. I’m happy to do it and hopefully everything will be great for my brother.”
Debbie Consoli said she owes an assist in her athletic career to her brother.
“Jay taught me everything I know,” said Debbie, a 1982 Winthrop High graduate and two-sport Northeastern Conference All-Star. “I was a good player because he taught me. Basketball was my best sport but I played shortstop, too. We had a really good basketball team with Maureen McManus, Joan Matsumoto, Eileen Kelly, and Lisa Monteleone, who was a sophomore. Those were great days. We almost won the State Tournament.”
Jay Consoli said his sister has also been a special person who always reached out to help people.
“Debbie was a basketball star then and now she’s a star,” he said.
(There will be an event on March 8 at the Point of Pines Yacht Club in Revere in honor of the Consoli family and Debbie Consoli’s 50th birthday).