Area Student’s Death Means New Life For Texas Gospel Singer

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TEMPLE (November 6, 2013) Gospel singer Johnny Ray Watson, 63, received a life-changing kidney transplant at Scott & White Hospital, the donor for which was a 20-year-old Texas A&M University student whom he knew well.

Johnny Ray Watson (right), with Robert and Darlene Tate during a news conference Wednesday at Scott & White Hospital. (Photo by Nick Delgado)

Caleb Tate, 20, a Texas A&M junior from Seguin, died last month at College Station Medical Center after he was critically injured when his motorcycle struck the side of a car.

Tate, who called Watson “Uncle Johnny,” had known for about a year that the singer needed a new kidney and told his mother he was willing to serve as a donor, but couldn’t because he was preparing to join the U.S. Navy, his parents, Robert and Darlene Tate, said during a news conference Wednesday at Scott & White.

Watson and Darlene Tate first met when she was just a teenager as he spoke to a youth group at a church in Midland.

After Caleb Tate died, his parents specified that one of their son’s kidneys go to their longtime friend.

Doctors determined the kidney was a match and Watson was rushed to Scott & White for the surgery on Oct. 18, becoming the hospital’s 500th transplant recipient.

He’s expected to make a full recovery.

"The miracle of medicine and human nature allowed me another chance at life," Watson said Wednesday.

For more than three decades, Watson, who lives in Bastrop, has performed around the world and with such ministries as Billy Graham Crusades and Bill Glass Prison Ministries, his website

Tate was a member of Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets whose commander remembered him as “a sociable, confident young man who had a resilient work ethic and a good sense of humor.

“He was a very well-liked young man, and his loss will affect all of us for a long time to come,” Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez, Jr., said in a statement.