Testimony of Victory: Mike Jones
Millions around the world watched on January 1 as the Rose Parade marked the start of a new year. On the Symphony of Life float, one of 100 entries in the parade, was a man who has a deep understanding of what new beginnings mean: West Angeles member and kidney transplant recipient Mike Jones.
Their story garnered international attention in the week preceding the parade, as the two were interviewed by several news crews. For Jones, the parade presented an opportunity to share his testimony with the world.
“God said He would enlarge your territory,” says Jones. “With 36 million people watching, boy did He enlarge it.”
Jones’ testimony is filled with miracles and signs of God at work in his life. At age 16, Jones, now 43, was in a car accident and injured 75 percent of his body. “Although I recovered, the doctors told me that I would be affected later,” he says.
On Thanksgiving 1996, 20 years later, he had a migraine. Jones, a healthy guy who plays softball regularly, teaches aerobics and cycles, thought the headache and accompanying loss of appetite were from overextending himself at the gym. Yet, he went in for a checkup the next day. A nurse practitioner in his doctor’s office who was familiar with him called with the results – End Stage Renal Disease. He needed a kidney transplant.
“The first thing she said was ‘Do you want to see your son (then age 8) graduate from high school?’” Jones recalls.
A faith believer with a love of life, Jones immediately began researching what treatments were available, searching online and visiting dialysis patients, advise he now gives anyone with an affliction.
“I didn’t want the sugarcoat version,” he says. “The doctors broke it down to me in layman’s terms. Then I could deal with my family.”
He opted for a procedure called Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), which allows a dialysis patient to care for themselves without daily visits to a dialysis center. CAPD enabled Jones to continue his athletic lifestyle and attend church at West Angeles, where he’s been a member for 16 years. He also survived the stress of divorce. “I couldn’t worry about it,” he says. “I had to keep on fighting and moving forward.”
Four years passed before the next health crisis. He spotted a tiny hole in his dialysis bag. “I saw it as a warning and called the nurse,” he says. When he went to the hospital, he was diagnosed with peritonitis, an infection that can kill a patient in 24 to 48 hours.
Jones stayed in the hospital 10 days and beat the infection, but it was a bittersweet victory. His father, who was battling colon cancer in another hospital, died. “We went in at the same time,” he remembers. “I came out. He didn’t.” Jones’ family would later be told that his father may have been the closest match from a blood relative.
Jones was on the national registry for a living or expired donor for six years until he met Abdullah in a workshop in 2001. On the first day, Jones explained to the class that he would be late to class the next day because of dialysis. By the end of the day, Abdullah was spearheading the 100 students in seeking out a living donor for Jones.
During one class session entitled, “Make An Unreasonable Request,” Abdullah urged Jones to ask the class for a kidney. “I didn’t want to do it,” he says, “because I felt God provides all.” He asked anyway.
During the break time, Abdullah overheard Jones say his blood type (O-positive) and interrupted the conversation. It was the same as Abdullah’s. “Then it dawned on me,” he says. “I touched her on the side and said, ‘May I have one of your kidneys?’”
Tests proved that the woman, who is of Hawaiian, German, Dutch, Italian and Arabic ancestry, to be a perfect match for the African American man from South Los Angeles.
“This tells me we’re all created equal. We’re just different shades of gray,” he says.
Fully recovered with no complications, Jones has returned to his job as a systems analyst in the aerospace industry and his hectic schedule of softball games, workouts and spending time with his son, now 14. But he doesn’t take his second lease on life lightly.
“I’m a brother who received an incredible blessing and I’m spreading the power of God’s word,” Jones says.
He has become a donor educator, speaking at health seminars, men’s groups, on talk shows and at other venues about the need for donors, particularly in the African American community. He is starting a nonprofit organization called One Miracle-A Celebration of Life to raise funds for donor education and support.
He also provides hope and encouragement to transplant patients and their families.
“The first thing I ask them is, ‘Do you believe?’ He can allow your body to heal itself or He can bless the [doctor’s] hands that will heal you.”
“People can scare the patients and I tell them not to be fearful of what the doctors say,” he adds. “Each person’s situation is different. You don’t know a person’s abilities and you don’t know how big my God is.”
His work is already changing lives. A widower with two young sons heard Jones tell his story on a radio program and called in to say that he, too, needed a kidney transplant soon but had no donor. Jones was able to match him with a woman in the audience of a talk show Jones appeared on. The man is scheduled for a transplant this month.
“I want the dash between my birth date and when I’m called Home to have meaning because I saved the life of another,” Jones says.
To read more about Jones and follow his recovery, visit www.onemiracle911.com