Life

Airline pilot donates kidney to suffering coworker - saves her life

August 15th, 2019

It’s pretty normal that one would build up a strong bond with their coworkers over time, but how far would you go to help out one of your work friends? Most people show they care by offering to cover shifts or delivering food to their fellow employee’s houses when they are sick.

However, Jodi Harskamp, a pilot from Alaska Airlines recently went as far as donating a kidney!

When Harskamp found out that Jenny Stansel, one of the flight attendants that she worked with had late-stage kidney disease, she was one of the first in line to offer up her organ.

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Although, first she had to do a blood test to make sure they were a match.

Several other coworkers also offered to give a kidney, but in the end, Harskamp was the only one whose tested showed up as O-positive — the same blood type as Stansel.

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Stansel was so relieved and grateful.

In the past year, the 38-year-old mother of three had undergone seven surgeries as well as several long term hospital stays. In addition, every night, she was forced to endure ten hours of dialysis. Doctors said if she didn’t find a donor soon, her time in this world was quickly coming to an end.

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“It is hard for me to put into words the gratitude I have for the sacrifice she and her family are making. Throughout, 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!” Stansel told Alaska Airlines.

They say for donors, at least, that a kidney transplant is about as risky as doing a caesarian section.

Although, there are other certain things that Harskamp is not able to do now since giving up a kidney. For starters, she can no longer play contact sports because of the risk of potentially damaging her remaining kidney. Although, Harskamp didn’t seem too upset about it.

“There goes my rugby career,” Harskamp joked.

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There was also the small possibility that her health would suffer as a result, making her unable to pass the stringent requirements necessary to continue being a pilot. However, she talked to several other pilots she knew who had donated kidneys and they assuaged her fears. Still, though, it was a possibility.

Luckily, the surgery went very smoothly.

Within weeks both women were able to make a full recovery.

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So what compelled the pilot to make such a big sacrifice for her coworker?

It turns out, several years prior, Harskamp’s family home in Anchorage where she lived with her two children burned down. After the unfortunate event, Stansel came over every night for weeks to drop off meals and provide assistance. Now, Harskamp knew she wanted to return the favor.

“Jenny is a fabulous person. I’d like to see her stick around for a long time,” she said.

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The two had spent so much time working together over the years and had become very close. Harskamp couldn’t bear to see her friend go out like that. Ultimately, she decided it was worth the risk of potential complications.

It was a decision that saved her friend’s life, and now, the two are closer than ever. Stansel even gave her new kidney a name — Kevlina. Originally, it was named Kevin, but then she remembered it was a girl kidney. We’re so glad the two of them have still been able to keep their sense of humor throughout the ordeal.

Watch the full video from Alaska Airlines discussing the heartwarming kidney donation story below.

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Source: Alaska Airlines

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