Alaska Airlines pilot pays it forward with kidney

March 23, 2017

Twowomenafterkidneytransplant

From home-baked lasagna to a new kidney, Alaska Airlines coworkers Jodi Harskamp and Jenny Stansel recently took their friendship to new heights. After years of fighting kidney disease, a transplant was the only hope for Jenny, a flight attendant. When she sent a message to colleagues at Alaska asking whether anyone would consider testing to see if they were a kidney match, Capt. Jodi Harskamp, a pilot, replied without hesitation, “I got your kidney, girl.”

From that moment, these kindred spirits began their transplant journey.

Help after a house fire 

The two, who are both based in Alaska, had only flown together a few times when Jodi, 41, lost her house in a fire four years ago. She was overwhelmed by the generosity of co-workers who donated clothing, gifts and dinners.

"Jenny was one of the first people to show up, with lasagna and a couple of bottles of wine,” says Jodi.

Since then, Jenny and Jodi have worked together many times and become friends.

Swedish gives an assist

After doctors confirmed Jodi was a match for a transplant, they immediately scheduled surgery for Jenny, 38. Swedish surgeons Jens Chapman, M.D., and Andrew Precht, M.D., performed the kidney transplant on March 13, four days after World Kidney Day.

We could not be more pleased with the initial outcomes from both Jodi and Jenny’s surgeries,” said Dr. Precht, director of liver and pancreas transplant at the Swedish Organ Transplant and Liver Center. “Everything went as planned and as soon as the surgical connections were made, the donor kidney immediately started working – Jodi gave Jenny a new lease on life with a beautiful, healthy kidney.”

Advocating for organ donation

What’s next for these two? To heal, to get back in the air as soon as possible, and to continue advocating for people to register for organ donation.

Swedish’s pioneering Transplant Program has been doing outreach in Anchorage, Alaska, and Boise, Idaho, for many years. To make it more convenient for patients in these areas, a transplant team, including a surgeon, a nephrologist, a social worker and a nurse, travels to these cities every few months to evaluate potential recipients and donors. Jodi was seen by the Swedish travel team about a year ago in Anchorage.

Swedish is one of seven kidney transplant centers and one of four liver transplant centers serving the Pacific Northwest.

If you’d like to learn more about organ donation, visit our resources page. For more information about our program, call 1-800-996-7426 to schedule a consultation or arrange a referral.

Topics: Men, Surgery, Women