Thomas Jones’ best Christmas gift came a little late this year, but it was no less life-changing.
“His kidney is doing great and that’s the most important thing,” said his dad, Will Jones, vice president of advancement at LaGrange College, on Friday.
Thomas was expected to have a second surgery Monday to insert a port to have a procedure to put his kidney disease in remission.
Jones, who turned 10 in November, had surgery on Thursday, receiving a kidney from fellow LaGrange resident Jamie Bradfield.
Bradfield, who turns 48 Friday, also is doing well, said his wife, Claire.
“He’s doing great,” she said Friday. “When I left him, he was sitting in a chair in his pajamas having a Coke and reading a Max Lucado book.”
Bradfield returned to LaGrange on Saturday afternoon amidst a mini-hero’s welcome, with friends lined up along both sides of Country Club Road at Hollis Hand Elementary School, waving signs and cheering.
Thomas had been on dialysis since April after being diagnosed five years ago with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a genetic kidney disorder. At that time, Will Jones and his wife Amy were told Thomas, one of their six children, would have his kidneys last about a year and half.
“We were fortunate it’s been longer,” Will Jones said.
About four months ago, there was a call out at the Jones’ church, First United Methodist, where Bradfield also attends, that Thomas needed a kidney. On a whim, Bradfield got tested. After another potential match was ruled out, he was told he would be the donor. Bradfield delivered the news to Thomas before Christmas.
“I really didn’t know (Jamie) that well before this,” Will Jones said. “Of course now we will be life-long friends.”
Claire Bradfield said her husband, owner of Heritage Construction, has appreciated the outpouring of support from the community as word has spread of his good deed. Many have sent messages, via Facebook and other means, to the family.
“I can tell how meaningful those messages are to him,” she said.
The couple’s daughter, Sara Kate, announced on Facebook “My dad is a rock star!”
Will Jones is just grateful his son will be able to have a normal life. Thomas was doing dialysis for 10 hours a day, at home, at night, but other activities also had been restricted.
“He’ll be able to swim. He can play soccer and he’ll have more energy. There will be less chance of infection. He’ll be a kid again,” Jones said. “This is a great gift Jamie has given us.”