Every time she steps foot on an airplane, Alaska Airlines flight attendant Jennifer Stansel entrusts her life with the pilots in charge. Now one captain is going above and beyond the call of duty to help her fellow crew member.
For 15 years, Stansel has battled chronic kidney disease, a sickness that hit it’s peak during a flight in March 2016.
“Just last March 10 – one year to the day – was my very last day at work. I had to take a passenger seat on the way home I was so sick,” she told Q13 Fox News.
“I can’t ever remember being so low,” she told ABC News.
Dialysis became part of her routine. But with her body failing, doctors told her she needed a kidney transplant to live. Cue Captain Jodi Harskamp.
Once strangers in the sky, Harskamp and Stansel built a bond after a house fire destroyed Harskamp’s home four years ago. Stansel lent a helping hand by cooking dinner for Harskamp and her family.
“Jenny was one of the first people to show up with this wonderful lasagna and some bottles of wine. She didn’t know me. I didn’t know her. She just said, ‘Here’s a lasagna and good luck,'” Harskamp told KIRO.
The pilot returned the gesture in a BIG way. When it was revealed that Harskamp was a perfect match, she jumped at the chance to help her friend despite that fact that losing one kidney could affect her career.
“There’s a small chance that I will never return to flying if my remaining kidney does not pick up the slack for my removed kidney,” Harskamp said.
“I’ve always said that my job is risk assessment, that’s what I do for a living, and I have determined that the reward in this is far greater than the risk,” she added.
Despite undergoing a serious procedure (which took place Monday, March 13 at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle), the two women kept a jovial attitude while sharing their story to various news outlets.
“She had actually said, ‘I am going to serve you my kidney in an ice bucket on the drink cart,'” Stansel told Q13 referring to Harskamp’s kindness, while also adding that her cooking may have played a role in the pilot’s decision to donate.
“It was the lasagna. It was made with love,” she said.
As for Harskamp, the choice to go under the knife was an easy one, once she broke it down.
“I lose a kidney, she gets to live, I’d say pretty fair trade, right?” Harskamp told ABC News, while laughing.
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