Detroit Lions nose tackle James Jones left the team today to be with his wife Son-Ja, who was scheduled to undergo a kidney-pancreas transplant at University of Wisconsin hospital in Madison.
Son-Ja Jones, a diabetic since age 9, has been on dialysis since October after both her kidneys began to fail. Jones has carried a beeper to practices and meetings all season so he can be notified if an organ donor was found. The Lions made a team plane available to take Jones to Madison this morning.
Lions Coach Bobby Ross said today that he did not know if Jones would return to play against the Redskins Saturday in a first-round playoff game. He also indicated he will leave that decision to the nine-year veteran.
"I know he took his game book," Ross said, "but right now [his wife] is the most important thing. I know he was thrilled to get the news about the donor. With James, this has been on his mind. The last four or five weeks, it's been really hard on him. The longer [the dialysis goes on], the less chance she had to live. It's been a tremendous burden. There won't be any subtle pressure. He's going to make the call."
Ross said one of his granddaughters underwent a heart transplant several years ago and that "we were just thrilled when we got the news there was a heart. . . . I know what James is feeling." The child survived the surgery but died after the heart eventually was rejected by her system.
If Jones, the Lions' best run-stopper, is not available to play, Kelvin Pritchett, a backup defensive tackle, would move into his spot.