SALT LAKE CITY — A boy with a broken heart is touching hearts all over the world. 11-year-old Mitchell Jones has Duchene muscular dystrophy and his heart is rapidly deteriorating. There is nothing doctors can do to repair the heart damage but his remarkable attitude and his family's faith have inspired thousands through a Facebook page.
"It's been amazing to feel love from everywhere. It really has lifted us up and made our burdens light," explained Natalie Jones, Mitchell's mother.
Mitchell's dad Chris said taking photos and writing their observations of Mitchell has helped their family.
"It's been amazing to feel love from everywhere. It really has lifted us up and made our burdens light."
"It causes us to be more reflective about our experience. It turned us from being victims to more observers of this marvelous thing that was going on even though it is so difficult," Chris said.
Mitchell has always had courage and strength beyond his years.
"He has this serious side and he asks the serious questions," Natalie said. But he is also quick with a smile. She says he is a joy and has the best sense of humor.
The Facebook page documenting Mitchell's journey and declining health was initially intended for family and friends but now gains a thousand new followers a day.
"It's been truly a blessing to have so much support so we can give Mitch our best," Natalie said.
Facebook followers say the Jones' inspiring messages and video have helped them find faith.
"We've been really surprised to see how people responded to this story. They will write us and say, 'I never prayed before or I didn't believe in God but now I do'," Chris said.
Besides sending prayers and words of encouragement, Facebook followers have taken action and last week delivered surprising news.
"One of the people following reached out to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. The CEO got on the phone with half of America's surgeons that are qualified to do what we need to do and just called us on Friday and said we can't see this happen. We want to help," Chris said.
If all goes according to plan, on Monday a surgical team in Columbus, Ohio will insert a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) into Mitchell's heart. It's not a cure, but it will give him more time.
"We had agonized over ‘have we done all that we could?' It would wake me up in the middle of the night," Chris said. "Have I missed something and so this thing surfaces and either way it is going to provide a way for him to live longer or satisfy that soulful question have we done all we could. So either outcome is a blessing."
The Jones family has counted many blessings along this journey and considers each extra moment of Mitchell's life a miracle.
"Mitchell shouldn't be alive at this moment and it is the combination of prayers and faith and now thousands of people that have altered the course of his life whether that has given us a few more days or with this new LVAD, possibly years," said Chris.
With whatever time is left, the Jones family will continue to find light even in the darkest places and prove to the world that broken hearts often have the most to give.
Many people have blessed Mitchell's life but two friendships have had a special impact. You can read more about that in the Deseret News.