A special giftMother giving 9-year-old son a kidney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Tabitha Jones sits with her two sons, DeMichael, 10, top, and Jacolby, 9, in her home in Vicksburg. Tabitha Jones is donating one of her kidneys to Jacolby this week. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

A Vicksburg woman and her son are leaving town today so she can give him the biggest Christmas gift he’ll probably ever receive a kidney.

Nine-year-old Jacolby Jones was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with Fanconi’s syndrome, a set of kidney malfunctions brought on by a variety of disorders. In Jacolby’s case, the disease has zapped his energy and caused his kidneys to nearly shut down.

“Jacolby has been in and out of the hospital for a long time,” said his mother, Tabitha Jones. “He’s had pneumonia and he’s been dehydrated.”

A feeding tube was inserted into Jacolby’s stomach in 1997 because he wasn’t gaining weight properly.

“Even on the days when Jacolby is at his weakest, he’s always got a smile on his face,” said Linda Herrod, principal at South Park Elementary where Jacolby is in the third grade.

Tabitha and Jacolby will travel to the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham for the surgery, where they will stay for six to eight weeks.

On Tuesday, students, faculty and staff at South Park honored Jacolby with stuffed animals, toy cars, coloring books, a cake and balloons.

Lindsay Pace, 7, a student at South Park, had never talked to Jacolby before she presented him with a gift at the party.

“I don’t know him, but I’ve seen him before,” Lindsay said. “I gave him the motorcycle because he has to have surgery and I want to make him feel better.”

Jacolby has tugged on the hearts of nearly everyone in the school with his smile and easy-going attitude.

“We all love Jacolby,” Herrod said. “We are looking forward to his getting help and we hope and pray it’s successful.”

Tabitha said Jacolbys mind is on other things besides the surgery itself.

“He’ll be brave,” she said. “Right now, he’s just focusing on the fun part. “The doctors told him about the playroom he’ll go to after surgery.”

Tabitha said she isn’t afraid. “Everyone asks me, but it hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “Everyone says I’m brave and strong, but I feel like any parent would do this for their child.”

Herrod said Jacolby and his 10-year-old brother, DeMichael, have a very supportive mother.

“She is wonderful. If we need her, we can call her, and in a heartbeat she’s here,” said Jacolby’s teacher, Lisa Rayfield.

Rayfield had great things to say about Jacolby as well.

“Jacolby has really captured my heart,” she said. “He is so sweet, and he’s well-liked by the other students.”

Faith Thomas, 6, a student in JoAnn Harris’ first-grade class, said she and Jacolby are friends because he’s cute and smart.

“He’s nice and he is really fun to play with,” said Robert Wilson, 6, a student in Harris’ class.

Jacolby’s classmates and everyone at South Park are wishing him luck.

“We hope he comes back better and stronger,” Rayfield said. “We hope he and his mother recover quickly,” she said.