Teacher donating kidney to father

By Ed Brock

Anthony Brooks taught his daughter Cheryl Brooks how to play basketball when she was a little girl.

Because of her father's influence Cheryl Brooks of Jonesboro grew into an athlete and a teacher of physical education at Smith Elementary School in Rex. And she still enjoys playing basketball.

But after Nov. 7 she might have to give up that sport for life in order to donate one of her kidneys to the man who taught her how to play all those years ago.

"That's hard but it's a sacrifice I'm going to have to make," Brooks said. "I really love my father."

Now 29, Brooks was always close to her father, mother Darla Brooks said.

"When she was old enough to walk he was taking her to the park," Darla Brooks said.

Anthony Brooks, 53, who lives in Atlanta said he had been involved in sports in his youth and wanted to pass that on to his daughter.

"Once she got a whiff of it she didn't want to do anything else," Anthony Brooks said.

Last year the Brooks family found out that Anthony Brooks' kidneys, which were always bad due to hypertension, had deteriorated and were only operating at 15 percent of their capacity. Her husband has to self-administer kidney dialysis four times a day, Darla Brooks said, and as soon as Cheryl heard about that she started getting tested to see if she could be a donor.

"When my mom told me that he needed a transplant there was no hesitation on my part," Cheryl Brooks said.

Along with the dialysis Anthony Brooks suffers from a loss of appetite and a loss of energy, things he has been told will return after the operation that will be performed at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.

"They said it will be a big difference," Anthony Brooks said.

Having spent four of her six years of teaching at Smith Elementary, Brooks' dedication has impressed the people she works with as well.

"We think she's the bravest soul alive," said fellow physical education teacher Ramona Greene. "She's more worried about being out then she's worried about herself. We told her don't worry about it, we've got you covered."

Brooks is optimistic about the surgery.

"The doctor told me that I will be out for five to six weeks from work. I'm saying four weeks," Brooks said. "I already told the principle I'll be back in December."

After that she should recover completely and have no need for extra treatment, but Brooks said the doctors have already told her that she would not be able to play contact sports again, and that includes basketball. But Darla Brooks doesn't believe that.

"She loves it. She's going to do everything she can to recover," Darla Brooks said.

Anthony Brooks said he discussed the decision with his daughter.

"She's a very smart girl. The decision she made was totally on her own and I'm blessed," Anthony Brooks said. "I said to her you're young, you've got your whole life ahead of you, the things most fathers would say to their daughters. She said she was tired of me having to do dialysis."

The future is far from certain, Cheryl Brooks said, and it may well be that some years from now, if she feels strong, she will play on a basketball team again.

"I'm stubborn," Brooks said.