Flight attendant and pilot back to work after kidney transplant

Pilot and flight attendant are back to work after kidney transplant

ByConnor McCarthy
August 10, 2017, 3:54 PM

— -- Nearly five months after a kidney transplant, both donor and recipient -- an Alaska Airlines pilot and flight attendant -- are back to work at 30,000 feet up, and flying on cloud nine.

In March, Captain Jodi Harskamp underwent surgery to transplant one of her healthy kidneys to flight attendant Jenny Stansel.

“I never wavered in my decision to donate,” Harskamp told Alaska Airlines. “There is nothing more fulfilling as a human being than to help another human being live.”

Stansel, who had been battling chronic kidney disease for 15 years, was out on dialysis, a grueling treatment for end-stage kidney failure, after a near-collapse during a flight last year

That’s when Harskamp flew in to help her.

Speaking with ABC News just before the transplant, the two said they met after Harskamp’s house burned down. Stansel was the first on the scene with a homemade lasagna.

“Jenny was one of the first people to show up, she made a lasagna from scratch,” Harskamp recalled. “She said, ‘you don’t know me but here is some love.’”

Four years after the fire, Stansel needed a new kidney, and Harskamp stepped up to return the favor.

“All of the people say wow, kidney for lasagna, that a huge trade,” Harskamp said.

“It was made with love, it was a really good lasagna,” Stansel laughed.

Months into recovery, the two are even closer friends than before.

A runner in the June 24 Mount Marathon Race in Alaska, Harskamp recently scaled a 3,000 foot peak. Stansel was there at the finish line, waving a sign that read, “my kidney's other half is on that mountain.”

The two flew their first flight together on July 23 to Seward, Alaska. Two days later the pair went salmon fishing together

Their new passion? Organ donation.

The duo’s slogan “share your spare,” drives them to educate co-workers, friends, family, and acquaintances about being a donor to those in need.

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