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Paying forward the gift of life


The following is from the October 9, 2012, edition of The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette. Nefeterius McPherson is a graduate of SMU, receiving a BA in English in 1996 and a law degree in 2008.

Nefeterius McPherson and Taitlyn Hughes collage
Nefeterius McPherson (top left) of Texas, received a lifesaving liver transplant from Taitlyn Hughes (top right) of Martinsburg, WV, when she died from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 12 last year. Although McPherson is a fifth-generation Texan, she wore gold and blue at the WVU-Texas game last week in memory of her donor. Both are avid football fans. Bottom right: Taitlyn (right) and her sister attend a WVU game. McPherson met with Taitlyn's family only three months after her surgery and continues to have a close relationship with them. (Photos from The Charlotte Gazette)

October 10, 2012

By Mackenzie Mays

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nefeterius McPherson is a fifth-generation Texan, but she wore gold and blue at West Virginia University's game against the University of Texas in Austin last weekend. The shirt belonged to Taitlyn Hughes, 12, of Martinsburg, who died of a sudden brain hemorrhage last November.

"I always knew I was supposed to share our story," said McPherson, a 38-year-old lawyer from Killeen, Texas. "I'm getting a second chance at life because of this beautiful spirit that had to go."

McPherson was diagnosed with Secondary Schlerosing Cholangitis, a rare bile duct and liver disease, in her first year of law school at Southern Methodist University.

By May of last year, she was added to a liver transplant list.

But she never once feared dying.

"I just always knew I was going to get a donor. It's not easy to explain. I thought, if God is going to get me this far, graduating with honors from law school, it's going to work out," she said.

When McPherson got the call Nov. 6 that she had a liver, it set off a rollercoaster of emotions.

"I'm surprised my neighbors didn't call the cops. I was screaming and crying at 6 in the morning. I had hit a wall emotionally, mentally and physically, and just when I thought I wouldn't be able to wait any longer, it happened," she said.

But before she could receive the transplant, she was shocked to hear her donor was only a child.

"I'll never forget those words. I never thought my donor could be so young. How could I be happy about the transplant when I knew a family across town was mourning the loss of their child, their baby?" she said. "I really struggled with that. I still do sometimes. It's bittersweet."

McPherson couldn't wait to reach out to Taitlyn's family, but before she could, Taitlyn's mother sent the first letter.

Read the full story.

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