Don and Phillip Phillips at their Georgia pawn shop [photo: Fox]Newly crowned "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips, who has a long history with kidney stones, underwent painful surgery earlier this "Idol" season to install a stent in his kidney. However, he didn't let that keep him from becoming a frontrunner in the competition: Incredibly, only six days after that operation, he delivered a solid performance of "Hard To Handle" on the "Idol" stage, and he eventually made it all the way to the winner's circle, never once even landing in the bottom three. But when Phillip started noticeably sitting out the show's Ford Music Videos, fans worried if another health scare had derailed him. And only now is it coming to light just how serious Phillip's medical problems were this season, as his father, Don Phillips, told People this week that his son underwent no less than eight surgeries while he was on "Idol" to remove a build-up of kidney stones.
"He's been doing [well], but it's just grueling hours and it's just amazing what he's done through the journey. Eight operations since we started 'American Idol'...He's hitting 50 percent, but he's still up there swinging away," Don said. (Runner-up Jessica Sanchez also told reporters backstage after Wednesday's "Idol" finale: "[Phillip] has worked harder than all of us. We've all worked hard, but he's been having to keep up with his health issues with his kidneys, and I think he's been through a lot more than us, mentally and physically.")
This is not the first time that Phillip's parents have spoken out about his kidney troubles. Last month a website based in Phillip's home state of Georgia reported that Phillip's mother, Sheryl, had posted a message on her personal Facebook page asking for her friends to pray for her ailing son. According to AlbanyUncovered.com, Sheryl posted: "I have a special prayer request. Please stop and pray a special prayer for Phillip. He is in a lot of pain and I am sad about it. I just wish he felt good. I love him so much and wish I could be with him. He would appreciate the prayers too!" A writer for the website then contacted Phillip's father, who reportedly confirmed that the punishing "Idol" schedule was taking a toll on his son's health. Fox representatives contacted by Yahoo! declined to comment at that time.
This is also not the first time that a contestant has endured serious medical problems on "Idol." Season 9's Crystal Bowersox and Season 10's Casey Abrams both nearly had to quit the show due to their own respective serious battles with type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. However, Crystal and Casey received the medical care they needed to stay in the game, and thankfully that was the case with Phillip this season too. Wednesday night at his post-finale press conference, he told reporters, "I had great doctors, and great people surrounding me, and it's just a blessing to be here now."
People reports that Phillip will soon undergo surgery to reconstruct his kidneys, but that he is thankfully expected to fully recover in time for the Idols Live Tour, which kicks off July 6 in Detroit.
Stay strong, P-Squared!
- Phillip Phillips's finale press conference
- Jessica Sanchez's finale press conference
- More on "American Idol"