‘‘We’re all here to take care of each other”

Flight at­ten­dant Jenny Stansel’s kid­neys were fail­ing. Jodi Harskamp is a pi­lot who only knew how sweet Jenny was be­cause of her kind­ness when she had a tragedy of her own. To­gether, the two moms would make a mir­a­cle hap­pen!

Woman's World - - Lifesaving Gift -

As the plane soared above the clouds, Jenny Stansel dou­bled over. Ever since she was a child, be­ing a flight at­ten­dant was her dream. But now, she was so sick, the Anchorage mom of three had to take a pas­sen­ger seat—then col­lapsed!

When the flight landed, Jenny found her­self in the ER, shocked to learn her kid­ney func­tion hov­ered at only 6%.

Jenny had known since she was 19 that she had sys­temic lu­pus ery­the­mato­sus, an au­toim­mune dis­ease where the im­mune sys­tem mis­tak­enly at­tacks the body’s healthy tis­sues.

But you can’t live your life wor­ry­ing, Jenny al­ways told her­self. So she had three chil­dren. She worked and trav­eled. And though, through the years, her kid­ney func­tion had fluc­tu­ated, she had al­ways been able to man­age.

Yet now, doc­tors told her she needed a trans­plant. In the mean­time, she’d have to stop work­ing and would be on dial­y­sis for more than 10 hours a day.

Jenny had never been one to ask for help. But now, think­ing of her kids, she sat down and poured out her heart in an e-mail.

Is any­one with O pos­i­tive blood will­ing to do­nate a kid­ney?

A per­fect match

Star­ing at the glow­ing screen, Alaska Air­lines pi­lot Jodi Harskamp read— and reread— the e-mail from a co-worker. How do I know that name? she won­dered. And then it struck her: Jenny! Five years ear­lier, Jodi and her hus­band, Neal, had en­dured a tragic fire that dev­as­tated their home. Bless­edly, their fam­ily had es­caped safely. But they lost ev­ery­thing. One of the first peo­ple to reach out was Jenny, who hand­de­liv­ered homemade lasagna and wine. For her to go out of her way like that . . . Jodi was touched. Learn­ing Jenny was sick now, Jodi could hardly be­lieve it. When­ever she ran into her dur­ing a lay­over, Jenny was al­ways smil­ing. Some­body as sweet as she is doesn’t de­serve this. No­body does! Jodi sighed. And she re­al­ized: My blood type is O pos­i­tive! Do­nat­ing a kid­ney was cer­tainly a grander ges­ture than mak­ing a lasagna. Yet Jodi sud­denly be­lieved this was some­thing she was meant to do. So, click­ing on the link to be con­sid­ered a can­di­date, she sent Jenny a mes­sage. I’m fill­ing out pa­per­work, girl. I’ve got your kid­ney! Jenny texted Jodi back an emoji with bulging eyes.

I hardly know her! Why would she do some­thing this self­less for me? she mar­veled.

But the truth was, as Jenny grew weaker, time was run­ning out.

Even­tu­ally, af­ter sev­eral weeks of test­ing, Jodi’s smart­phone pinged with a mes­sage.

Jenny was sit­ting at her kitchen ta­ble, hope­less­ness hang­ing over her like a black cloud, when Jodi called.

“I knew it. We’re a match!”

Jenny’s se­cond chance

Thank

you!” Jenny beamed through tears of grat­i­tude as they flew to Seat­tle’s Swedish Med­i­cal Cen­ter for the trans­plant.

The risks were great: If Jodi’s other kid­ney did not pick up the slack, she could be un­able to work— or worse.

Still, she had zero hes­i­ta­tion as she slid into her hospi­tal gown to be prepped for surgery.

Jodi was so healthy, sur­geons were able to re­move her kid­ney la­paro­scop­i­cally with just four small in­ci­sions. And the mo­ment it was im­planted in­side Jenny, the tox­ins be­gan leav­ing her body and the color re­turned to her cheeks!

When Jodi awoke, Jenny’s three kids—21-year-old Daniel, Am­ber, 16, and Austin, 13— were nes­tled around her hospi­tal bed.

“Thanks for giv­ing our mom your kid­ney!” they chimed, and tears sprang to Jodi’s eyes.

Within just days, Jodi went home; Jenny fol­lowed.

“You saved my life!” Jenny hugged Jodi. Yet Jodi sent Jenny a card: Thank you for chang­ing my life. You gave me the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing amaz­ing!

Re­cently, when Jodi ran a 5K moun­tain race, Jenny was wait­ing at the fin­ish line hold­ing a sign say­ing, My kid­ney’s other half is on that moun­tain! And now that Jenny’s back at work, they even worked a flight to­gether.

In­tro­duc­ing her­self over the loud­speaker as the pi­lot, Jodi an­nounced, “Jenny is one of your won­der­ful flight at­ten­dants, and she’s ex­tra awe­some—be­cause she has one of my kid­neys!”

The whole plane erupted in cheers. And to­day, the two women— closer and more con­nected than ever—be­lieve that no mat­ter where they fly, hope is closer than you think.

“There’s al­ways some­thing you can do to make the world a bet­ter place,” Jodi says.

“I feel fan­tas­tic— all be­cause of Jodi!” adds Jenny, who’s now also en­gaged. “We’re all here to take care of each other. Be kind to ev­ery­one. You never know— some­one could save your life!”

— Patti Zar­ling

To the world you may be just one per­son, but to one per­son, you may be the world.” BRANDI SNYDER

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