'Mitchell's Journey' ends; boy with 'broken heart' dies

Condolences are pouring in on Facebook, where people around the world have been following the Utah boy's struggle against a deadly form of muscular dystrophy.

Mitchell Jones' journey on Earth is complete.

The 10-year-old Utah boy, whose daily struggle with a debilitating muscle-wasting disease captivated thousands of followers around the world on Facebook, died over the weekend.

Mitchell died of heart failure in his own bed, surrounded by his family at their home in Herriman, Utah.

Chris Jones announced the death of his son in a post on Facebook — the same social medium through which strangers across the globe came to learn of the boy's plight.

Jones wrote:

"Dear Family, Friends and Loving Supporters,

"At approximately 1:30 AM (Saturday, March 2nd) our sweet Mitchell passed away.

"In the hours leading up to his passing we gathered around him as a family, spoke with him, told him how much we loved him, kissed him, cuddled and loved this young man with all that we had. We were grateful that he was able to squeeze our hands to acknowledge he was hearing us. We will miss our baby so very much. Mitchell, while weak in body was giant in spirit."

Jones set up the "Mitchell's Journey" page on Facebook last year initially to keep family and friends apprised of how Mitchell was doing. "Follow the touching journey of a young boy whose broken heart will touch yours," the page's tagline said. The page, which attracted more than 62,000 "likes," includes poignant videos, photos and stories of episodes in the boy's life and reflections from his parents.

"It's been really unbelievable. It wasn’t our intent to do that but it happened for some reason and we're grateful for people's support and love and encouragement," Chris Jones told MSN News in a telephone interview last week.

Mitchell was diagnosed at age 3 with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, muscle-wasting disease that progressively gets worse and is usually fatal by the late teens or early 20s. Last year, doctors discovered that Mitchell had cardiomyopathy, meaning his heart was rapidly deteriorating.

Mitchell's parents took him home from the hospital about three weeks ago so he could spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones. He was less than two months' shy of his 11th birthday when he died.

Condolences poured in on Facebook from well-wishers who had never met the boy but assiduously followed every twist in his harrowing journey.

"This is a hard story to 'like' but it's a wonderful story full of love, strength and sadness. Thank you for sharing this story of another young man and his family whom has been touched by this horrible nightmare of a disease. You are an amazing family," one woman wrote.

"Your sharing such intimate details in your family's very difficult journey is beyond inspirational," another woman said. "In today's chaotic times, it's a rarity to see one family on an unfair and tragic journey handle it with such grace, love, faith and generosity (by sharing your difficult story)."

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Another reader wrote:

"Once again I'm brought to tears. Your son has affected so many people around the world with his strength and his belief in God. I know he has made me strive to be a better person every day and to love my family like I never have before. He was truly a blessing and I thank you for sharing him with all of us. R.I.P. Mitchell, I will never forget you."

His parents, Chris and Natalie Jones, thanked the Facebook followers for their support and encouragement.

"Our hearts are heavy with sorrow, but filled with gratitude and peace. Mitchell's Journey is not over: it has only just begun ... in this life and the life after," they wrote.

In addition to his parents, Mitchell is survived by a sister and two brothers.

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