Special to South Florida Times
RIVIERA BEACH — Jauron Jones was born with short bowel and was only 16 months old when he underwent liver, bone marrow and small intestine transplants.
Now 18, the William T. Dwyer High School junior has to undergo yet another liver and small intestine transplant, a procedure that will cost an estimated $2 million.
Jones and his family received a boost Sunday when Hilltop Missionary Baptist Church, 1273 W. 30th St., Riviera Beach, hosted a fundraiser for him. The event called attention to the need for organ donors.
Jones is a typical teenager who has friends, likes basketball and admires Miami Heat star player LeBron James. But he is also shy and is diminutive for his age, a clue that something is different with him.
“He was born with short bowel syndrome. There was a hole in the intestine,” said his mother, Bonita Jones, a county clerk at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.
After it was discovered, a surgical procedure took place but that led to gangrene, she said. He was then put on a nutrition supplement and that damaged his liver, making it necessary for a liver transplant, she added.
Short bowel syndrome is a group of problems related to poor absorption of nutrients that typically occurs in people who have had half or more of their small intestine removed, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
People with short bowel syndrome cannot absorb enough water, vitamins and other nutrients from food to sustain life, according to the group’s website.
“I’d like people to know what I have to go through,” Jauron Jones said. “I have to see doctors, a lot. I have had a lot [of surgeries]. It takes about three weeks to three months [to recover].”
Bonita Jones would like the community to be aware of the importance of organ donation.
“Jauron needs a liver and his intestine is failing,” she said. “Someone has to die, you know, be a donor, in order for him to receive [the organs]. Because he’s so small, they’re not sure if he will get it from an adult or child.”
Life Alliance Communications Coordinator Rosetta Rolle Hylton said anyone can become an organ donor by signing up when receiving or renewing a driver’s license.
The University of Miami organ recovery agency promotes awareness concerning becoming an organ donor for everyone, especially those with reservations.
“When it hits you personally, all the reservations change. The time varies to find a match,” she said. “I’ve got people who were on the list for eight years, people who were on the list for two months. It depends on who’s the sickest and who has been on it the longest.”
Jauron Jones is on the federal waiting list which currently has more than 100,000 people in need of organ transplants.
“Right now, we have over 120,000 people on the waiting list. Every day 18 people die, 15 of those 18 are minorities,” Hylton said. “So my target is minority outreach. I go to churches, schools… trying to tell the story. Four years ago, we had 20 people dying every day. My brother was one of those 20.”
Jauron’s father Ronnie Jones, a custodian at his school, said it has been hard dealing with his son’s illness but his faith and the support of friends has helped sustain him.
“At first we took it hard. But time heals everything. All we can do is pray, so hopefully [that’s enough],” he said. “Jauron doesn’t have any other siblings. It’s just him.”
Bonita Jones said the procedure will be performed at the Holtz Children's Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
Photo: Jauron Jones