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Hope postponed

Health concern halts transplant surgery by Allison Carter | December 25, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

Christmas miracles don't always happen on time.

Today was going to be an extra special holiday for Rogers resident Hunter Phifer. He was supposed to be recovering from a surgery scheduled on Dec. 10 -- a kidney transplant that would have changed his life, and possibly saved it.

Unfortunately, the surgery was delayed indefinitely.

"I was a little bummed out whenever I found out the surgery wasn't going to happen," he said. "But I wasn't too upset. The other transplants didn't happen, so I've learned to not get my hopes up until the day of."

Phifer has experienced this disappointment before. Two of his grandmothers and an acquaintance had tried to donate a kidney to the 19-year-old in the past two years, but all were unable for various reasons.

"Anyone would be bummed," he said. "But I got over it quickly, and we'll go on from here."

On Dec. 4, doctors at the University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock delayed the scheduled transplant after surgeons became concerned over one of Brian Smothers pre-surgery test results. The Springdale dad has planned on donating to Phifer since August, but he was told at the last minute that he would be unable to without further tests.

"There are a lot of details as to why and even more unanswered questions," he said. He still hopes to donate, he said, and has traveled several times to Little Rock over the past three weeks for further testing.

"The transplant board will be meeting and is supposed to get with us from there," said Phifer's mother, Amber Atwood. "We are all so very frustrated but have faith that God knows why."

Despite the disappointment, Phifer is staying positive, he said, happily using this free time to finish Christmas shopping and prepare for the new year, whatever it will bring.

"I'll always appreciate Brian for everything he has done, even if he can't donate," he said. "I'm glad they're making sure everything will be OK for him after the transplant. I would hate for him to have a health problem because he donated a kidney to me.

"I mean, I would feel awful," he concluded. "It's not like he can get the kidney back if the transplant causes him problems."

Both Phifer and Smothers hope for the best and expect the surgery will be rescheduled soon. Until then, they will enjoy this Christmas as they had planned. And although they have a few less scars than expected, they celebrate with the same hope that brought them together in the first place.

They hope for a Christmas miracle not granted. Yet.

-- The UAMS transplant team will meet Monday to determine whether a new date will be set for the surgery. Follow Allison on Twitter at @NWAAllison for updates and possible rescheduling.

NAN Our Town on 12/25/2014

Print Headline: Hope postponed


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