Local Organ Donor Advocate Dies Of Cancer

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

DALLAS (March 23, 2014) A Killeen native whose organ transplantation story gained national attention has died of cancer.

Nefeterius Mcpherson, 40, died last Thursday at a Dallas hospital following a short battle with abdominal cancer.

McPherson graduated from Killeen’s C.E. Ellison High School in 1992, moved on to SMU to receive a bachelor’s degree in 1996, and earned her master’s degree from UT Dallas in December of 2000.

But it was in McPherson’s first year at SMU Law in 2005, where she was diagnosed with Secondary Schlerosing Cholangitis, a rare liver disease that stops the flow of bile to the stomach.

In 2011, complications from the disease required McPherson to receive a liver transplant. McPherson was put on a waiting list, and within a few months she received a new liver from a 12-year-old girl who had died from a brain hemorrhage.

In a 2012 interview, McPherson told News 10 she wanted to know the girl who saved her.

“How could I get excited about my new liver when I know a family is mourning their child? It broke my heart,” McPherson said.

The girl’s name was Taitlyn Hughes of Elkins, WV. The poignancy of her age impacted McPherson, and fueled her ambition to become an ardent advocate for organ donation.

In 2012, McPherson heavily utilized social media to honor Taitlyn for giving her new life.

Hughes was an avid WVU fan, so McPherson tweeted a photo of her wearing a shirt bearing the college’s colors saying, “I’m from TX but my organ donor was from WV. I wore her WVU shirt 2 the UT game on Sat. I'm now a WVU fan.”

McPherson and Hughes’ story then swept through the nation through numerous media platforms.

She even rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hughes favorite pro-football team, when they played the Dallas Cowboys in 2012. McPherson shared her transplantation story with WFAA-TV days before the game.

According to Taitlyn’s father, John Hughes, McPherson went above and beyond what any organ recipient is required of, tirelessly advocating Taitlyn’s story and praising her for saving her life at every turn.

“She kept Taitlyn’s legacy alive daily. Anytime she went anywhere she made sure to mention my daughter,” Hughes said.

“She will certainly be missed.”

McPherson would volunteer her time with UNOS often, a nonprofit organization that coordinates U.S. organ transplant activities.

McPherson was hospitalized recently for unknown reasons. On March 12, she posted on Facebook that she awoke from surgery to be told she had an aggressive form of abdominal cancer.

McPherson ended her post by saying, “I will fight like crazy to beat it!”

Her funeral service will be Monday, March 24th at 11am at Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas.

She will be buried at Killeen City Cemetery.

To register to become an organ donor, click the link on this page.


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