A lifesaving partnership aiming to sign up thousands of black bone marrow donors launched today, on the anniversary of Daniel De-Gale’s death.
In his short life, Daniel De-Gale inspired thousands of black and mixed race people to become stem cell (or bone marrow) donors, before he sadly died on 8 October 2008.
He was the UK’s first black person to receive a bone marrow transplant from a stranger, after a long struggle to find a match. The transplant was a success but years later, aged just 21 years old, he sadly died of organ failure resulting from an unrelated condition.
Six years on, despite thousands of African-Caribbean people coming forward, blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan has revealed that there is still much work to be done; there are 30 times more white people on our register than African Caribbean people.
Less than 20% of black transplant patients can find a ‘perfect’ bone marrow match, giving them a much lower chance of life. This is because, for those in need of a transplant, their only chance of finding a matching donor will usually be from someone of the same ethnicity.
On the sixth anniversary of Daniel’s death, his mother Beverley De-Gale and stepfather Orin Lewis - who together founded the ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) in 1996 - have vowed to carry on their son’s remarkable legacy, forming a life-saving partnership with Anthony Nolan that could save the lives of people like Daniel in the future.
From today, Anthony Nolan and ACLT will join forces to sign up thousands more donors from African and Caribbean communities.
The first phase of the campaign will see the two charities working closely together to sign up a target of 1,000 African-Caribbean young people to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register, in just six months. But this ambitious goal, according to an Anthony Nolan spokesperson, is ‘just the beginning’.
“We are excited to get started on signing up one thousand young lifesavers from black communities, but this is just the first step – we want to build a long-term awareness campaign so that future generations of black and mixed race people do not face inequality in their chance of life,” said Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan.
“Our shared vision is for a world where African-Caribbean people get the same chance of life as white Northern European people in need of a bone marrow transplant.
"To achieve that goal, we need to bust myths, raise awareness and build lasting relationships with black communities throughout the UK.
"We are honoured to be working with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust and Daniel’s family to work towards this important vision.”
Beverley De-Gale said: “Like so many other families, we faced an agonising wait to find a matching donor for Daniel; the odds were stacked against us, as we were told that there were only 550 black people on the Anthony Nolan register at that time, despite years of campaigning.
"At times we felt helpless, but we realised we could make a huge difference for Daniel and others like him if we addressed the lack of awareness head-on, so we set up the ACLT.
"The answer to this heart-breaking situation was in our own communities – and they truly did us, and Daniel, proud.
“Now we need the next generation of young African-Caribbean people to follow this example and sign up to the Anthony Nolan register today.
"If you’re 16 to 30, you could give people like Daniel a future and end the inequality they face when searching for a donor.”
Anthony Nolan and ACLT will announce donor recruitment activities later in the Autumn.