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World Kidney Day: the Mike Jones story

Juliana D. Norwood | 3/9/2011, 5 p.m.

Mike Jones is the founder, president and CEO, of the One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting living organ donors and recipients. His mission is to help bring awareness and educate the public on how to give the "gift of life" (i.e. kidney, liver, bone marrow or blood transfusion) and remain healthy in the process.

Jones, a kidney recipient and organ donor educator, received a kidney after waiting five long years. But while he was waiting, Jones refused to let dialysis stop him from leading a normal, productive life. On Sept. 25, 2001, Jones, a young African American Christian man, found a donor in Patricia Abdullah, a White Muslim woman whom he met while enrolled in a four-day, personal self-development seminar earlier that year.

"When I was at the self-development seminar and told them my story, these people and these strangers actually started to work together to help me find a kidney donor, and they all agreed that they would go home and ask five friends and just continue spreading the word. At one of the days of the seminar, I was talking to a guy about my situation and I told him that my blood type was O positive. A lady overheard and just came over and said that she also was O positive and that I should make a proper request. I asked her would she donate her kidney to me and she agreed. She got tested at UCLA and it turned out that not only did we match ...we were a perfect match. The doctors said we could not have been a better match unless we were born identical twins. God was truly at work."

After the surgery, Jones was told that it would take him in excess of a year to get back to his normal course of activities but determined to best that time, Jones pushed himself so that he was able to participate with his normal activities within six months of his transplant.

But, he didn't stop there. Jones became a dedicated advocate for transplants and participated in a number of events to help the cause. In July 2002, Jones participated in the Dina LaVigna Breath of Life Triathlon Relay where he rode 24.8 miles on his bicycle. On Sept. 25, 2002, Jones celebrated his one-year anniversary as a Gift-of-Life recipient and helped raise money for the Salud Foundation to open the first dialysis center in South Africa. In March 2003, Jones celebrated the launch of his dream-the One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation through which he has been able to help facilitate successful donation to four people by bringing awareness about the need.

"I realized when I was going through it that there was a real lack of information out there about kidney disease, and dialysis; the Internet is helpful, but I really had to educate myself. I didn't want anyone else going through what I went through. I wanted to share this information with the masses. I wanted to give people information from a patient's perspective, not a doctor's or psychiatrist's. I wanted to let people know what they were going to experience through someone who had already experienced it."

In an effort to support his foundation, Jones (a music industry veteran) combined his love of Jazz with the One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation to create an annual Evening of Jazz that is gathering some of today's top smooth jazz artists to help him spread the word, and on Sept. 9 in Los Angeles, the foundation will host its sixth annual Evening of Jazz. The event will feature Paul Jackson Jr. and special performers Greg Adams, Jeff Lorber, and a surprise guest.

In addition to this event and a host of upcoming speaking engagements--including being a panelist today at the California Science Center in honor of World Kidney Day--Jones is a donate life ambassador for organ and tissue donation as well as a co-author of "Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, The Power of Mentorship-Finding your Passion," and his upcoming book "In the Company of Angels" which is a written account of his life.