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Flight Attendant Becomes Co-Worker's 'Angel' by Saving His Life with Kidney

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It is a fearful thing to have an organ fail. Though medical technology can work wonders, donors are often scarce and the ill often suffer for years before finding a solution — if they ever find one at all.

United Airlines flight attendant Jair Ripoll understands that struggle. He was diagnosed with a hereditary kidney disease, a condition that seemed to come out of the blue.

While he could’ve tried to wait for a kidney to come from the official government organ-donor lists, that often takes years. Instead, he decided to follow his friends’ advice and turn to the power of social media.

“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,” the resident of Newark, New Jersey, told Good Morning America.

“They said, ‘You never know who your angels are out there.’”

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So Ripoll posted on Facebook, and he could never have expected the response he got. His first reply came from a friend and fellow flight attendant, Steven Lepine.


“I thought, ‘We probably won’t be a match, but this is something that I can do as a human being,’” Lepine explained. “That’s the way my parents raised us, to lend a helping hand.”

Much to his (and Ripoll’s) surprise, the opposite proved true: He was a match, a perfect match.

Would you consider being an organ donor?

What’s more, the news didn’t throw Lepine for a loop. “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,” he said.

An amazing attitude, one that would benefit the world at large were it more common. According to the National Kidney Foundation, some 101,000 sick Americans need a kidney, but only 17,000 will receive one annually.

Ripoll was shocked at his friend’s willingness. He recalled taking Lepine to lunch and saying, “I wouldn’t be mad if you change your mind.”


Lepine chose to go through with it, and on December 6, 2017, the transplant took place. Both men have since been able to return to work, and Jair says the experience has truly cemented their friendship.

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“I don’t want to think about where I’d be,” Ripoll said. “I’m so grateful to God that he took that big step to save my life.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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