Dakota gives two thumbs up.

Posted: January 8, 2018

JOY and HOPE are intimately connected and are powerful gifts we can give our students, perhaps the most powerful! One of the very best parts of being involved in public education is the JOY and HOPE students give us each and every day! The past few years we’ve featured stories that highlight the HOPE and JOY in our district. Let me know if you have any story suggestions. Thanks for helping us share the HOPE & JOY each week!

Dakota Watson, sophomore at Camas High, recently received an amazing gift: a new kidney. Due to the transplant procedure, he’s not able to come to school for a bit’ so I recently had the privilege of connecting with him at home via face time. He was on the move throughout the conversation with new found energy! Dakota has an amazing spirit of persistence that beams from him. He told me a little bit about his journey.

Tell me about life before the transplant.
Before transplant, I missed school quite a bit with kidney infection after infection and was hospitalized a lot. Luckily my teachers were awesome and helped me stay caught up, and I even made honor roll my 8th grade year. People told me because of my condition, it was ok if my grades weren’t as good, but I didn’t want that. I was really proud of making the honor roll. So five months ago I was put on the list to get a new kidney—which was cool and scary at the same time. Cool because I’d have a chance to feel better. Scary because the reason I was on the list was because my condition was getting worse.

How did you find out you were getting a transplant?
My mom called me saying it was my turn, and I said, “Mom. That’s not something you should joke about.” She said she wasn’t joking. I live close to Camas High so after school I ran home as fast as I could and packed a bag for the next day. My mom said I could go to school and wait or wait at home. I thought I might as well go to school, because I’d go crazy waiting at home. My teachers let me keep my phone out so I could stay up to date. You have one hour to get to Doernbecher’s once you get the call so I was really anxious. The entire school day went by without a call. I went home and then finally about 4 PM the phone rang, and it was the transplant team. I was on my way to Doernbecher’s. There were two people ahead of me one needed a heart and kidney and the other needed a pancreas and kidney. Because the pancreas wasn’t good from the donor I was up. On December 14, at 2 in the morning I got my new kidney! I had surgery pain, but felt immediately better. I had an appetite and had a HUGE breakfast and a special request for Top Ramen – you aren’t allowed to eat things before transplant like ramen because of the sodium. I never was really hungry before because I didn’t ever feel well.

How are you doing now?
It’s so different I didn’t expect there to be post-transplant struggles, but there are still challenges like how I’m temporarily diabetic. I’ve got a lot of energy, but I can’t just go out and do everything. Right after surgery, I asked my nurse if I could go on a hike. She said that was probably not a good idea. I’ve always wanted to do everything I could and not let my condition slow me down. I wanted to be there and support others.

It’s wonderful to see Dakota feeling so well and excited about what’s next. His persistent spirit brings us great JOY and HOPE. Look out world for Dakota Watson and his two kidneys!

Have a great week!

Jeff