West Orange, SOMA and Orange communities unite to find a kidney for longtime resident

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ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — South Orange, Maplewood, Orange and West Orange residents are rallying around Anthony Brooks and his family in an effort to find him a kidney donor. Brooks lost one of his kidneys to cancer in 2017, and now the disease has spread to his remaining kidney. Now looking for a living kidney donor, friends of the family are helping the cause.

“He’s had a kidney removed already, and at the time doctors said that eventually he would need another one,” Anthony Brooks’ wife, Intisar Brooks, said in a phone interview on April 20. “But he had low function in his kidney anyway, so they don’t want to leave it in too long. A living kidney donation would be the best option.”

In a living kidney donation, one of the donor’s functioning kidneys is surgically removed and placed into a person whose kidneys aren’t working properly. This method would allow Anthony Brooks to avoid having to go on the transplant list, which Intisar Brooks said could be as long as a five- to seven-year wait. Waiting that long would drastically change Anthony Brooks’ everyday life.

“With no kidneys it would be completely different,” Intisar Brooks said. “He would have to be on dialysis every day.”

Anthony Brooks is still able to live his life and go to work every day while he’s been waiting for a kidney, but by the time his day is over he’s exhausted. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of kidney disease.

Intisar Brooks said they didn’t realize how many people are affected by different types of kidney diseases until Anthony Brooks was going through it himself. At Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, formerly Saint Barnabas, where he receives his treatment, they attended information sessions about what the options were.

“I thought it was just a meeting with his doctors,” Intisar Brooks said. “But it was a room full of people, and there were more sessions later that day. And that was just at Saint Barnabas. What about all of the other hospitals?”

So far, a match hasn’t been found, but it’s not for lack of effort from the Brooks’ friends. Anthony Brooks grew up in Orange, and the family lived in the South Orange–Maplewood area for a long time before moving to West Orange. All three of the Brooks children went to Seth Boyden Elementary School and Maplewood Middle School in the South Orange–Maplewood School District; the oldest graduated from Columbia High School. The middle and youngest both attended West Orange High School. The families of their friends have been getting the word out about the need for a kidney.

“They’ve really mobilized,” Intisar Brooks said. “They created the website and have distributed flyers around town. The response has been amazing.”

Intisar Brooks works at a preschool, and some parents and students that she taught years ago have volunteered to get tested to see if they’re a match.

A match “hasn’t come out of it yet, but the fact that they would do that says there’s a lot of good people out there,” she said.

The donation interest form can be found at www.sbmclivingdonor.org; those interested in donating should specify Anthony Brooks as the recipient. More information can be found at www.onekidney4tony.com or by emailing onekidney4tony@gmail.com.

Even if this campaign doesn’t get Anthony Brooks a kidney, Intisar Brooks still thinks something good will come from it, especially if matches are found for others in need of donation.

“If someone gets something out of it, then that’s a blessing,” she said. “Even if my husband doesn’t.”

Photos of the Brooks family courtesy of Inken Finnamore