As any seasoned flight attendant could testify, you can spend an entire flight building a relationship (and sharing your life story) with a fellow crew member only for them to disappear at the end of the workday without even saying goodbye – and the possibility of never seeing them ever again a real possibility.
Sure, flight attendants do make friends with one another – but with airlines working complex roster systems, many flight attendants don’t make the same kind of close relationships with their colleagues as many other workers get to enjoy.
Which makes the story of Newark-based United Airlines flight attendant Jair Ripoll even more remarkable. As ABC News reports, Ripoll’s life was saved by a fellow flight attendant who volunteered to donate his kidney for a co-worker he had never even met before.
Ripoll had been struggling with a hereditary kidney disease for 10-years when doctors told him he would require a kidney transplant. Everyday life was getting harder and harder for Ripoll and now he had learned his life could come to an end if he didn’t find a donor – quickly
“I was flying with a couple of friends and they learned about my condition at that time and they encouraged me to post on Facebook and see if I could get a donor,” Jair told ABC.
“You never know where your angels are out there,” he recounts his friends telling him.
And it turns out that his angel would be a fellow flight attendant who responded to his Facebook plea within seconds of it being posted online. That flight attendant was Steven Lepine, who said he initially doubted he and Ripoll would be a match but he felt compelled to at least get tested.
As it turned out, however, Lepine turned out to be a perfect match.
“I had some relief actually because I knew that this was going to go through and it would bring some sunshine into somebody’s world,” Lepine recalled.
The transplant surgery took place last December and after Ripoll initially suffered some complications, both men are now said to be doing well. Ripoll has praised the support of United Airlines and his colleagues who visited the hospital and even slept overnight beside him after the transplant.
Thinking of what might have been if Lepine hadn’t of come to his help, Ripoll says: “I don’t want to think about where I’d be.”
“I’m so grateful to God that he took that big step to save my life.”