The next step was finding a match, which turned out to be Jones‘ father, Donald Jones II.
Barring complications, Appel is confident Jones will live a long and normal life, including the prospect of playing baseball.
“He is certainly not a quitter by any means,” Appel said. “The first thing he talked to me about when he knew he needed a transplant was, `Well, I can’t play football, but could I play baseball?’”
Appel is not aware of anyone in baseball ever playing after a kidney transplant, but he’s familiar with one in basketball.
Among Appel’s patients is former NBA center Alonzo Mourning, who had the same disease. Mourning continued playing after kidney transplant surgery in 2003, and won a championship with Miami in 2006.
If Mourning can do it, why not Jones?
“You always want to make sure you can maximally protect the transplant, but I think we’ll be able to figure out a way,” Appel said. “If he puts his mind to it, he’ll be able to do it. Determination is the big thing.”
Bills receiver Stevie Johnson saw that determination firsthand in his former teammate.
“He’s been taking it like a champ,” Johnson said. “There’s people who have no complications and are still sitting and sulking. He’s not. He’s still trying to get it. My hat’s off to him. Respect.”
Jones‘ father doesn’t doubt his son’s aspirations given what he’s already accomplished.
“I don’t put anything past this guy,” Donald Jones II said. “He has definitely made me a believer.”
That faith is why Jones was elated upon first learning his kidney was a match and, at 48, he was healthy enough to be a donor.
“I feel pretty much like Santa Claus,” Jones said. “I just gave a gift and can’t wait for him to open it up, you know?”
His son knows.
“He and my mom gave me life, and then for him to give me a second chance at life, it’s like the most amazing feeling in the world,” Donald Jones III said. “For him to have to go through all of this stuff, it’s like, `Man, you know I love you.’”