Coming Home: How one child’s courage has inspired an entire community in Collinsville
June 16, 2016 Share

Coming Home: How one child’s courage has inspired an entire community in Collinsville

Featured image: Jaden Jones, 5, returned home on Wednesday from heart surgery at Children’s Hospital to a welcome party of almost 50 family, friends, neighbors, and other wellwishers from throughout the Collinsville community. This was Jaden’s fouth heart surgery in 5 years.  Photograph courtesy of Josh and Allie Jones


By Joseph M. Morgan and Tyler Pruett

COLLINSVILLE, Ala.—After nine days of recovery, Jaden Jones, 5, had a special surprise waiting for him when he returned home Wednesday after undergoing his fourth, and what his family hopes will be his final, heart surgery at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham on June 7.

When Jaden and his family returned to their home in Collinsville Wednesday afternoon, they were greeted by a welcome party of more than 40 friends, family, neighbors and well-wishers from all over the community, many of the children waiting for the Jones family’s arrival with posterboard signs welcoming Jaden home and celebrating his return after a successful surgery.

The group’s presence and strong show of support is a powerful reflection of how Jaden’s courage and bravery have allowed he and his family to triumph over illness and find the perseverance and strength to conquer hardship. And along the way, they have touched and inspired an entire community of people.

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Jaden surrounded by family and loved ones. Photo  by Tyler Pruett of Southern Torch

Jaden was born with a very rare, congenital heart condition called atrioventricular canal defect, or AV canal. A complication that affects only about 2 in every 10,000 children, AV canal is often diagnosed at or very soon after birth and occurs when the valves that separate the upper heart chambers from the lower chambers are abnormally formed, causing problems with blood flow in the heart and lungs.

In some cases, AV canal allows extra blood to flow to the lungs. The extra blood forces the heart to overwork and if left untreated can cause significant health problems or even be fatal. AV canal defect is a serious heart condition that sometimes requires multiple surgeries—in Jaden’s case a total of four procedures.

Jaden would undergo the first of his four heart surgeries at only two months old, proving only weeks into his young life that he was a fighter. In the last 5 years Jaden has undergone surgery after surgery, recovering each time with an enduring and endearing sweetness of spirit and a fearless show of strength and courage that leaves friends and family full of awe and admiration.

Jaden’s parents, Josh and Allie Jones, said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and show of love from the community.

“We’ve had so much support from so many people,” Jaden’s mother, Allie Jones said. “From families and friends to our church family, really the whole community has just been wonderful to us. We’ve had a lot of people show us over the years that they really care about us and love us. I think Jaden has been an inspiration to a lot of people and we’ve been blessed by their prayers for our family and their support.”

As he and his family prepared for his latest surgery on June 7, a “Fontan” procedure to help regulate blood flow to his heart and lungs, he was in his normal high spirits only hours before he would undergo open heart surgery—a process at this point that Jaden sadly knows far too much about and understands all too well for a child so young.

His mom Allie used social media to keep friends and family up-to-date with the progress of the surgery and Jaden’s recovery, posting updates each day for the benefit of the many friends and family who had the Jones family in their thoughts and prayers. Her post the morning before the surgery offers a revealing look into what makes Jaden so special to so many people and how an entire community has been touched and inspired by his story and compelled to show the Jones family their love and support.

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Photograph by Terah Patton of Collinsville

“We just got the call to be at Children’s (Hospital) in the morning at 6:00,” Allie said in her first post on June 6, the day before Jaden’s surgery. “Jaden isn’t nervous at all…he amazes me in so many ways…so I just ask for prayers for a successful surgery, pray for all the medical team involved, and please pray for strength for me and Josh.”

“It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and this is our 4th time watching this little 5-year-old go back to surgery. He is such a fighter and I know our God has great plans for him! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the prayers, the messages, the kind words, the Bible verses. I feel the love and prayers, and I see it surrounding Jaden! He is just excited that we are going to buy new pajamas for his hospital stay!!!”

Collinsville, like many towns in DeKalb County is a tight-knit community, a place where most people have known their friends and neighbors for all of their lives. Allie says she and her husband Josh are grateful for all of the support from their community, and for Dr. Dabal and the very skilled and kind medical team at Children’s Hospital that performed Jaden’s surgery.

She said the doctor’s prognosis for Jaden is good, and that the team at Children’s believe that his health will continue to improve and allow him to do all the things that kids love doing—running, playing, and most importantly to Jaden who already at 5 years old, just like his daddy and siblings before him, he loves to play sports.

In fact, when Southern Torch talked to the Jones family just hours after they returned home from the hospital on Wednesday, Jaden was already in the back yard shooting basketball with his dad and his big brothers. Of course, that’s no surprise to anyone who knows Jaden—or who knows his dad and brothers. As he continues recovery from his fourth surgery, it looks more and more like the hopes and prayers of an entire community are being answered as the strength and health of this special 5-year-old finally are beginning to match his strength and courage. Maybe one day it will even match the size of his heart.

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