Philadelphia native Tony “TNT” Jones has been composing and playing jazz and blues music for some 40 years.
A base guitarist, he has traveled the world with acts including Sister Sledge, Nina Simone, Grover Washington, Jr., Buddy Guy, The Blue Notes and others.
Last year, however he returned to Philadelphia from Turkey due to intensifying health concerns.
He had become increasingly short of breath, was in significant pain, and at times Tony was unable to eat.
“I would sleep all day and play at night,” he says.
He was so weak he left everything behind and got on the plane home with just his guitar and a carry-on.
Less than 24 hours after his arrival, Tony was at the Emergency Room at Jefferson University Hospital. Doctors quickly determined that he had experienced a massive heart attack during his last weeks in Turkey.
Tony was admitted to the hospital. And diagnosed with active heart failure, meaning he needed a heart transplant to survive.
“Tony’s condition was serious and we needed to act fast,” says Paul Mather, MD, director of the Jefferson Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center and Tony’s physician.
Tony had previously had a blocked artery for which he received a stent during his time in Turkey, and was back to good health soon after.
So this news came as a shock.
He remained at Jefferson under the care of Dr. Mather and his team for testing and round-the-clock monitoring and on May 30, 2012, Tony received a new heart.
After a lengthy hospital stay and a few setbacks he was on the road to recovery.
About six months after his transplant, he picked up the guitar. He regained his strength and stamina over time and is now back playing and teaching guitar at the Clef Club at Broad and Fitzwater in Philadelphia.
He has also picked up a few summer gigs in the city and at the shore.
Recently, Tony and some friends held a benefit concert at the Clef Club to thank the staff at Jefferson for the care he received and to raise awareness for organ donation.
Tony was joined by several local jazz musicians, including Norman Connors, Sister Sledge and others for the benefit concert. Proceeds from the gig support Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.
“The entire Jefferson staff, from the students to the nurses, residents, doctors and surgeons was fantastic,” says Tony. “They saved my life; now I get to say thank you.”
Check out this recent 6ABC news story on Tony: