Rolesville High School student overcomes obstacle, graduating with honors

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Rolesville High School student overcomes a life-threatening illness to walk with fellow graduates (WTVD)

Brooke Parrish is graduating from Rolesville High School with honors and the countdown is on.

"I'm so happy that I'm graduating," she said.

But it took many difficult moments to get to this point.

Parrish was diagnosed with hepatopulmonary syndrome when she was in 6th grade. It's a rare condition affecting the lungs. As a result, Brooke had to undergo a liver transplant in Pittsburgh.

"It was really challenging because I was just getting into the swing of things in my freshman year, making friends and then I had to leave," Parrish said.

Despite being away from high school for five months, Brooke kept doing her work, which was sent to her by her teachers.

"Since the transplant, even when there have been some times that perhaps she hasn't felt as well, Brooke perseveres," said Rolesville High School Principal Dhedra Lassiter. "She has perseverance like none other. And she inspires me every day. When I see her in the hall, I am just simply amazed at what she has managed to accomplish."

Her accomplishments wouldn't have been possible without Brooke's liver donor.

"So indebted and grateful, and blessed for her donor to have given that gift to Brooke," said her mother Charlene Parrish. "If that doesn't happen, people are heartbroken. We've been on both ends of it."

That's because Brooke's brother, Gregory, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was 3. The unrelated genetic disorder led to his death at the age of 12. Brooke thought about him during her recovery.

"I thought about his strength and how much he just didn't care about the disease and he just carried on and lived his life like it was nothing and I just wanted to be just like that," Brooke Parrish said.

Parrish excelled in school and is heading to Appalachian State University in the fall, with the hopes of eventually working at a fashion magazine.

When she walks across the stage to accept her diploma, Parrish and her family say Gregory will be there in spirit.

"He's just there, he's watching her and proud of her," Charlene Parrish said.

"He would just be so happy," Brooke Parrish said.
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