Maria Jones’ battle with Portal Vein Thrombosis
On what seemed like a normal visit to the doctor’s office, getting a blood test done for her sports physical at the age of 10, senior Maria Jones was told devastating news. She was told by doctors that the amount of white blood cells and platelets in her body were very low. Ultimately, the doctors were stumped in the treatment of the condition at the time, unable to formulate a diagnosis.
After two years of testing, ultrasounds, biopsies and a Computed Tomography scan, Jones was diagnosed with Portal Vein Thrombosis. With this condition, the portal vein from the spleen to the liver is affected. Thrombosis prevents blood from flowing through, causing the spleen to grow to a size larger than normal.
“At age eleven, a doctor at the University of Miami Hospital told my parents that in order to treat my condition, we needed to contact a specialist at the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois for surgery,” Jones said.
In Chicago, Jones underwent two surgeries in 48 hours. The first surgery was the Rex Shunt procedure, which restores blood flow in the portal vein as treatment for Jones’ condition. The second was a procedure to remove a blood clot in the vein that was between Jones’ liver and spleen.
“After I had the surgery, I went to Chicago to visit my surgeon every three months. As time progressed and I recovered, my checkups became less frequent and I only needed to see the surgeon every six months and now only once a year,” Jones said.
Throughout her medical journey, Jones was restricted in various physical activities and sports which caused her to pause soccer and flag football at one point. This was very upsetting to her, as her love for soccer and flag football were immeasurable and something that could never be replaced or taken. Sports were difficult to let go of for a while, affecting her mental health and happiness.
“At first I doubted that I would be playing soccer the way I used to play because I felt that emotionally this condition was stopping me from reaching my potential,” Jones said.
Jones’ experiences have allowed her to become courageous and optimistic over time, learning the importance of hope at a very young age. Today, Maria lives a typical teenage life, engaging in the sports she loves, such as flag football and soccer.
As Jones’s mother Daniela Jones was able to guide her daughter though the diagnosis and treatment of her condition every step of the way, M. Jones was able to recount the feeling of a mother being able to watch her child recover, resume and excel in her normal activities like soccer again.
“I was so happy to see Maria enjoying playing soccer because it is her passion and what she loves. She never gave up on what she wanted,” D. Jones said.
M.Jones believes that overall, this condition has made some aspects of her life more difficult, but after the surgeries, it benefited her from the experience and from the building of her overall character with a much easier, changed, lifestyle. Her journey illustrates that keeping up with her health is an important aspect of her life.