FAIRFIELD — It will be exactly 30 days Saturday since Shayla Davis-Watson lost her sister-in-law Walette Watson to kidney disease.
Davis-Watson and Watson planned to walk in the Donate Life Walk this Saturday in Fremont. Watson recently received a succesful kidney transplant at UC San Francisco. Davis-Watson was there with her sister-in-law through the course of kidney problems the past 15 years.
When Watson’s kidney issues resurfaced, their plans changed. She died Aug. 8 at age 57.
After her death, Davis-Watson was busy taking care of Watson’s arrangements and funeral. Despite so many responsibilities, she decided she would still walk — maybe not with her sister-in-law but in honor of her.
“She was a really strong woman who took care of everyone else,” Davis-Watson said. “(Walking) is what she would’ve wanted me to do.”
Davis-Watson is walking Saturday with her team “Yes I Can!” to both remember Watson and to raise money for people like her who need an organ transplant.
Before Davis-Watson met her sister-in-law, she was firmly against organ transplants.
“I believed what came with your body left with your body,” she said.
When the two met more than 15 years ago, Davis-Watson didn’t realize the extent of Watson’s kidney problems. Watson had dealt with kidney disease for nearly 20 years. At first, Davis-Watson said, her sister-in-law was in denial about her problems.
Davis-Watson stuck by her side through years of dialysis. Eventually, Watson moved in with Davis-Watson and her brother when Watson’s illness became worse.
Through the ups and downs of her disease, Watson still managed to attend school and receive her associate degree and bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, all while raising her niece.
When got so ill she couldn’t walk, she got in a wheelchair and resumed her studies at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock. After she graduated, Watson was motivated to earn her master’s degree.
“She was a trooper,” Davis-Watson said. “Anyone who needed help, she was always there to assist.”
Watson’s life, struggles and resilience changed Davis-Watson’s mind about organ donations: She and her daughter are now both organ donors.
Davis-Watson said her sister-in-law “lived a full life because someone donated their organ.”
“It shed a new light for me,” she said. “It touched my life.”
To register for the race visit http://www.ctdn.org. To donate to the “Yes I Can!” team, visit http://donatelifewalk2012.kitera.org/yesIcan or mail checks to 366 Wisconsin St., Fairfield.