Cherokee Casino employee saves a life through organ donation


Cherokee Casino and Hotel West Siloam Springs poker dealer Tresa Brewer prepares to deal cards. In July, she donated a kidney to save a friend’s life.

WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. – As a single mother to three boys and a full-time poker dealer, Tresa Brewer has a lot on her plate. For many, this would be enough to bear alone, but Brewer somehow managed to give up six weeks of her time and her personal finances to help save someone’s life.

Brewer, a Cherokee Nation citizen who will celebrate her nine-year anniversary at Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs next spring, recently completed the life-changing process of kidney removal for organ donation.

Ricky Anderson, a Houston resident and longtime family friend, was the recipient of the kidney. Originally a friend of her father, Brewer said she met Anderson 15 years ago, “and the bond that we’ve shared through my dad is wonderful,” she adds.

Upon hearing of Anderson’s kidney failure in early 2009, Brewer kept his situation in the back of her mind for four years. This April, knowing a donor had not been found, Brewer felt compelled to get tested.

“He was just heavy on my heart. God gave me all the signs to get tested, and in April, I did,” said Brewer, an Air Force veteran. “A few weeks later, the results came back and I was a perfect match with the DNA marker.”

July 16 was immediately scheduled as the day for surgery at the Houston Methodist Hospital. Anderson’s final day of kidney dialysis would be the day before.

“We were in surgery for close to five hours total. It took two and a half hours to remove my kidney and two hours for them to place it in Ricky’s body,” said Brewer. “The kidney started working as soon as they put it in. His body accepted it perfectly with no rejections. It was remarkable.”

Within an hour after recovery, Anderson’s color was back for the first time in years. Grateful and wanting to say thank you, Anderson forced himself to walk. He made the difficult trek to Brewer’s hospital room the next morning, where her recovery time was taking much longer.

“It’s a friendship I could never explain,” said Brewer. “I teased him about making sure to drink a lot of water, because my kidneys were used to it—he normally drinks tea.”

Brewer has returned to dealing cards and sharing her story, hoping more will consider organ donation. Anderson, still in recovery, is gaining strength at his father’s home outside of Houston.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world,” said Anderson. “Tresa is my angel. She gave up a part of herself so that I could have a normal life. I owe her everything.”

Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs is located off U.S. Highway 412 and State Highway 59 in West Siloam Springs.  For more information, visit or call (800) 754-4111. All guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend. 

Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896 

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