Airline pilot giving life-saving kidney to flight attendant in ‘a pretty fair trade-off’

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SEATTLE -- A pilot and a flight attendant at Alaska Airlines are celebrating National Kidney Month in a very inspiring way.

"Once we close that door, we have to rely on the person sitting next to us to save our life, literally."

That's what these women do every day they go to work, as Alaska Airlines employees. But now Capt. Jodi Harskamp is going above and beyond the call of duty for her friend and flight attendant Jenny Stansel.

"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," Stansel told Q13 News.

For 15 years, Stansel has struggled with kidney disease brought on by lupus.

"She sent out a company-wide email after she went on medical leave saying, I need a kidney, preferably O positive. She set up a Facebook page and like, literally, would walk around with applications in her purse to hand out to baristas, 'Hey, are you O positive? Do you wanna fill out an application?" Harskamp said.

Harskamp decided to give it a try. And as it turned out, she was Stansel's match.

The two moms, both based in Anchorage, Alaska, will have their transplant surgery Monday at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

"I have just been really excited. Some days, I have to calm myself down," Stansel said.

Both women understand the risks, but they anticipate a smooth ride.

"There's a small chance that I will never return to flying if my remaining kidney does no pick up the slack for my removed kidney," Stansel said.

But "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. I'm gonna lose a kidney and she gets to live -- it's a pretty fair trade-off."

Both women hope that by sharing their story, they will inspire others to consider donating, too.