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Donor Family Story: Percy Ethan-Todd Brooks

Percy Ethan-Todd Brooks

June 12, 2000 – June 22, 2023

Loving, kind, caring, adventurous, spontaneous, free-spirited, humorous, dedicated, courageous. 

These are only a few of the words that I would use to describe my brother, Ethan. My name is Cierrah and for 23 years, I was Ethan’s protector. He called me Cissy, a name that has stuck with me since. Ethan’s parents are Todd and Nicolette. No amount of words could describe the love we have for Ethan. From the time he was born, Ethan lived his life to the fullest. He never saw fear or danger. He only saw opportunity. A character trait that many may view as a negative is one of my favorite things about my brother. 

In the past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about Ethan and the kind of person that others perceived him to be. I have been able to see him for more than just my brother, but the kind of man he had grown into. I have heard time and time again of the kindness and generosity that was shown by him. At his funeral, someone mentioned to me that they had never seen so many people at a funeral. In truth, I had not either. We were most definitely expecting a large group just because of the amount of friends Ethan had made within the biker community. However, the amount of people that showed up for our sweet boy, left us speechless. 

Ethan was employed at Campbell Soup and was known by the majority of the staff there. They describe him as a hard worker, always with a smile, and having the unique ability to make you laugh in any sort of situation. I was told by several of his staff members there that while he was the youngest on the line, he was also one of the top paid employees. Only while being there a short time, he had managed to work himself up into higher paid positions. He most certainly worked a lot and often took several additional hours of overtime. This afforded him opportunities to meet more than just the regular staff that was employed during his normal shift. It goes without saying, Ethan had a dedication to his job and a work ethic that was unmatched. This is something that I have always believed that our daddy instilled in us as young children. Prior to working at the plant, Ethan was employed at Honda as a car salesman. At only 19 years old, he was named the top car salesman at his location. 

Ethan absolutely loved to be outdoors and had a big heart for his two Belgian Malinois, Ace and Gunner. It was a rare occurrence for you to see Ethan and not see his two pups following behind him. Ethan’s birthday was on June 12th and one of his closest friends shared with me that his only request for a birthday dinner was that his pups be allowed to join them. He trained them himself and this allowed him to take them into the public as he pleased. Ethan had a great sense of adventure. By the time he was 3, he could already ride a bicycle without training wheels. As he got older, he found a love for various atv’s and motorcycles. When he was not at work, you could find him riding his red Harley Davidson, fishing or even hunting with his “boys”. 

On June 18, 2023, my baby brother was in a motorcycle accident. When we got the call, I of course ran to find him, but while I was worried, I still believed he was going to be just fine, like he always was. You really just had to know Ethan to understand why I say this. He was once in a 4-wheeler accident where he’d hit a stop sign in the dark going 70-80 miles per hour. After the accident, he returned to the scene and took the stop sign home with him. He still had it, to this day. I never could have imagined that his motorcycle accident would have led me to this moment. After the motorcycle accident, his family was informed that he had severe brain trauma, swelling and bleeding on his brain. This meant that there was a certain time where Ethan had lost oxygen from his neck and above. There was nothing they were able to do for him and told us to prepare to say goodbye. This was the darkest moment of my life by far. I am 26 years old, three years older than Ethan. In all of those years, I had never experienced heartbreak like I did in those words. Even now, when I really think about what has occurred in the past month, my brain just cannot comprehend those words. For nearly a week, I sat, ate, and slept in a hospital room next to my baby brother. Even though the organ donation was already received and scheduled, my heart still hoped for a miracle for him. I waited and waited for him to open his eyes and wake up to all the crazy things we’d filled his room with. He was such a tough guy on the outside and we frequently joked about him hating everything we had decorated the room with. Day after day, the hospital was flooded with strangers that we had never met, but people that shared their most precious moments that they had spent with Ethan. Even in those moments of heartbreak between his family and his friends it made me so happy to know just how loved he was by others.

I hope that in reading this letter you can see the life that Ethan lived and know that he would have made the exact same decisions that his sister did. Never did I imagine that I would have to make these decisions. In fact, up front, I have always said no to organ donation. It was just always one of those things that seemed wrong. But, when I was told my brother was not coming back my mission became making sure that he lived on, regardless of what way. The decision to make him an organ donor was effortless for me. While I was saddened to be losing my brother, my heart rejoiced at the idea of not only allowing him to continue living, but in the fact that we had the ability to allow him to save the lives of so many other people. Up to the very morning of Ethan’s procedure, I was still pondering ways in which he may be able to help someone else. This was the moment in which we made the decision to donate Ethan’s corneas. As soon as the thought presented itself to me in the hospital, I knew this was the right thing for Ethan. We were calling him a miracle the day of his accident and we are still calling him one now. You, your life, your purpose, you are a part of his miracle. No amount of thank you’s or appreciation could ever explain the gratitude I hold in my heart for you.

More than anything, I want you to know that your life is special. Your life is valuable. I am thankful for your life. This paper I was given speaks about survivor’s guilt, but I want you to know there is no reason for you to have anything of the sort. You’re probably thinking that I don’t understand because I am not in your shoes and you are most definitely right. But in the very end, there was nothing I wanted more for my brother than to be able to give his life for others and in my heart, I know he would have done the same for me.

My greatest wish for you is that you live life just like he did-

Freely, happily, and like everyday is your last.

 

With Love,

Cierrah (Ethan’s Cissy)