WEST PALM BEACH — When Miami Heat players got set to take on – and beat – the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, they had a special guest with them.
Jauron Jones, who since infancy has been battling a life-threatening condition called short bowel syndrome had a dream come true when the 2012 champions hosted him and his parents.
Mike Miller stopped to say hello, Udonis Haslem took a moment for a photo op, and when Mario Chalmers walked over to an unsuspecting Jauron and shook his hand, the smile on his face as he turned around to look at his mother Bonita Jones in the stands caused an infectious eruption of laughter from family members.It is really a miracle, Jones said. Just last year, her son had a stroke and could not walk or talk.
“The doctors didn’t expect him to live,” she said. “They basically told me to give up.”
Jauron cannot absorb enough nutrients from food to sustain life, which has led to health scares over the years. He underwent bone marrow, liver and small intestine transplants before age 2.
The senior at William T. Dwyer High School, 13601 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, is home-schooled in a hospital based program because of his health. Even with a full-time nurse assigned to him, Jones said the family takes her son’s medical situation on a “day-by-day” basis.
Former Miami Heat star and kidney transplant recipient Alonzo Mourning understands the difficulties living with a chronic illness. He had a one-on-one chat with Jauron before the game. “I told him, ‘I want you to stay positive because the body follows the mind.’ Unfortunately this young kid is dealing with (serious) health obstacles,” Mourning said.
“People have a tendency to give up but Jauron has been strong enough, where he hasn’t given up. He stayed positive through the whole process.”
Jauron said meeting Mourning was the best part of getting to hang out with the Heat because they both have had organ transplant surgeries.
“He’s been through what I’ve been through,” he said. “It made me happy because he had an encouraging word for me.”
Jauron was put on a waiting list for another liver and small intestine transplant when both organs started to fail again but was recently taken off the list when his liver seemed to be healing, Jones said.
Jones and her husband Ronnie attended the game with their son.
“I’m sure that dealing with Jauron and what he’s been going through has been taxing mentally,” Mourning said. “This night out helps them get away from the challenges and rigors of life.”
Jones said her son he couldn’t contain his excitement. “Jauron has been through so much, so to see the smile on his face, it just felt good,” Jones said.
Although for the moment Jauron does not need another organ transplant, his mother still stresses the importance of organ donation because, she said, someone’s donated organs helped to save her son’s life.
Mourning said he would like the public to become more educated on this issue and know that becoming an organ donor may help extend the lives of others.
“I’ve been the beneficiary of an organ donor and having a life-saving transplant,” he said. “It’s a simple procedure. You can just have it put on your driver’s license, go to the DMV and have it done.”