Mikes Jones, a kidney recipient and Organ Donor Educator, was blessed to receive a kidney after waiting five long years. He refused to let dialysis stop him from leading a normal productive life. His passion for life, jazz, travel, sports and especially softball were all intertwined. Mike’s optimism and determination came through in everything his was involved with.
On September 25, 2001, Jones, a young African-American Christian man, received the “gift of life” from his donor, Patricia Abdullah, a White Muslim woman whom he met while enrolled in a four-day Personal Self-Development seminar earlier that year. 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. He was able to participate in his normal activities within 6 months of his transplant.
July 2002, Jones participated in the Dina LaVigna Breath of Life Triathlon Relay where he rode 24.8 miles on his bicycle. September 25, 2002, he 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. March 2003, Jones celebrated the launch of his dream – the One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation.
On January 1, 2004, Jones and his donor Patricia Abdullah were featured riders on the inaugural “Coalition on Donation” float in the 115th Tournament of Roses Parade® along with 20 other transplant recipients, organ donors and donor family members.
Mike’s life and community around him was transformed after receiving his kidney transplant. He shared his story of cross-cultural compassion and promoted organ donation as a volunteer Donate Life Ambassador, becoming a visible, vocal and constant presence in community events through out the region.
Mike’s advocacy through his One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting living organ donors and recipients. His mission was 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. His work inspired churches; schools and gave hope to kidney patients.
Combining this miraculous “Gift of Life” and his love of jazz, The One Miracle Celebration of Life Foundation created an annual “Evening of Jazz” event gathering some of today’s top contemporary jazz artists to help him celebrate. The Evening of Jazz Fundraiser became an established event over the course of seven years.
In 2006, Jones honored a young man at the 4th Annual Evening of Jazz for being instrumental in bringing attention to his brother in desperate need of a kidney. Later that year, Mike was able to get the young man’s sister a temporary visa and flew her from Guatemala to Los Angeles to give her brother the “Gift of Life” (kidney)
2007, Jones presented “The Inspiration Athlete of the Year” award to Rony Turiaf of The Los Angeles Lakers from ESPN Radio Sports Awards for having heart surgery. He immediately returned to professional basketball following his surgery.
June 2008, brought Mike and his donor to speak at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and as a result of their testimony, the Pastor’s daughter received a kidney transplant later that year. Culminating in 2009, the Master of Ceremony for that event also received a kidney transplant. The summer of 2012, Jones was a participant in the U.S. Transplant Games.
Mike was born to two loving parents, but six months later his was adopted when his young parents had found themselves in a very difficult situation and realized they had to do what was best for their infant son. Lonnie and Octavia Jones lovingly raised him. It would be 44 years later after Lonnie and Octavia’s passing that Mike would learn of his birth parents.
Mike did find his birth parents Willie Williams and Maggie Lee, 47 years and 4 days later. For the next 5 years and 10 months they developed a close relationship. Mike got to meet and enjoy both sides of his birth families. Willie say’s ” We all had the closure we had been seeking for years. But none of us were ready for this real life fairy tale to end so soon”.
Mike worked in aerospace in El Segundo, CA for over 20 years and for the Department of Defense for eight years. He graduated from Westside Academy. Mike accepted a full academic scholarship to attend USC, but had to discontinue his studies after being critically injured in an automobile accident. Jones co-authored two books, Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul, and The Power of Mentorship. At the time of his death Mike was working on his autobiography.