Pilot To Give Life Saving Kidney Transplant To Flight Attendant

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Commercial airline pilots protect the lives of everyone on board their flights every day, and that includes flight attendants. Soon, one Alaska Airlines pilot is going one step further for the life of a flight attendant by donating a kidney to her.

Flight attendant Jenny Stansel, 38, has been fighting kidney disease for the past 10 months. During that time, she’s had to make seven trips to the ER and undergone seven surgeries. She currently undergoes 10 hours of dialysis every night.

However, a kidney transplant will help Stansel resume a normal life. In order to help, a countless number of friends and co-workers underwent testing to see if they were a match.

The only person who came back as a match was Stansel’s friend and Alaska Airlines pilot Jodi Harskamp. After speaking to others who have donated a kidney, including other pilots, Harskamp has decided that donating her kidney is worth the risk if it means saving Stansel.

“Jenny is a fabulous person. I’d like to see her stick around for a long time,” said Harskamp, 41, who joked that donating her kidney will prevent her from pursuing a rugby career.

For Harskamp, a mother of two young kids, donating a kidney to a friend in need is her way of paying it forward after all the help she received when her house burned down a few years ago.

Stansel was the first of many flight attendants who came by Harskamp’s temporary home with dinner for Harskamp and her family every night for weeks following the fire. It was that experience that helped the two forge a strong friendship.

The live donor transplant is scheduled for March 13, and Stansel says she is forever grateful for what Harskamp is doing for her.

“It is hard for me to put into words the gratitude I have for the sacrifice she and her family are making,” she said. “Jodi has maintained a positive attitude and a genuine attentiveness toward my well-being, all while caring for her own family. She is my hero!”

In addition to thanking Harskamp, Stansel has penned a letter to all the people who were tested and would have been willing to make the same sacrifice.

“Not only were most of you willing to give your kidney to me but you were willing to give to another recipient in an exchange that would allow me to receive a kidney,” Stansel wrote. “That is history in the making!”