Blood cancer charity ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) have launched a campaign to encourage the African Caribbean community to register as potential lifesavers in support of 12-year-old Damary Dawkins. The young footballer has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and urgently needs a blood stem cell transplant that could potentially save his life.
Earlier this month Damary received support from professional footballer and Manchester City midfielder Raheem Sterling who posted the following tweet:
“Guys this is serious, we need to help this kid! At only 12 yrs old Damary Dawkins has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (a cancer of the blood and bone marrow) since he was nine. Read more on my FB page https://www.facebook.com/309512255869436/posts/1072796252874362/ …”
At the age of nine, in 2015, Damary was diagnosed with ALL. ALL is a type of cancer that leads to a larger number of white blood cells in the blood and lower number of red blood cells and platelet cells.
Damary is naturally a very active child who enjoys swimming and playing football, and is currently a member of Palace for Life Foundation’s Elite Player Development Centre in Bromley. The treatment course was set to last three years, with Damary receiving the strongest chemotherapy available for leukaemia.
The family were told his treatment would end in July 2018 with Damary then being free from cancer but instead received the news that he had relapsed. Doctors have said Damary’s best chance of survival is a blood stem cell transplant because the cancer is more aggressive than before and chemotherapy alone will not work.
A search of Damary’s family has not found a match so he is now relying on a complete stranger to be his potential lifesaver. Damary’s African Caribbean heritage means the search is even harder because there is a lack of black, Asian and mixed-race donors on the stem cell registry.
Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia. Every year, over 12,000 people die from blood cancers in the UK – making it the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
Individuals have the opportunity to register as blood stem cell donors online by visiting https://aclt.org/join-the-stem-cell-register/ and potentially save the life of someone with a blood cancer or blood disorder, like Damary.
Beverley De-Gale, Co-founder and Director of Operations at ACLT said:
“Damary urgently needs the African Caribbean community to step forward and join the register. He is yet to receive a transplant because currently, there isn’t a matched donor on the worldwide stem cell register. By the community stepping forward to join the register today, Damary could have a chance of beating the leukaemia. However, this can only happen if the members of the public act now.”
A blood stem cell donation is often the only chance of survival for many blood cancer and blood disorder patients. Sadly, many patients will not find a matching donor. This isn’t because a match doesn’t exist, it’s simply because there aren’t enough people registered as donors.
Anyone in the UK aged between 17 and 55 and in good general health can register with DKMS. People who are aged 16 – 30 can also register via Anthony Nolan. To register, both organisations asks potential blood stem cell donors to give consent and a cheek swab sample. This can be done by attending an ACLT registration donor drive or by requesting a cheek swab kit online via DKMS or Anthony Nolan.
ACLT will be registering potential stem cell donors at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival, on Sunday 26th August. ACLT will be located on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Lancaster Road, between 12 noon – 7pm.