Yesterday I had the privilege of supporting an amazing cause. In Global Radio station, Leicester Square (home to Capital Xtra) the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) hosted the #DansBday1403 donor drive. The aim was to spread the word and raise awareness about the lack of black donors on the GLOBAL bone marrow register, and to sign up as many people as possible to potentially save lives.
As myself and Hayley (@lenahlang) walked in, we were greeted by a warm welcome from passionate volunteers. We were each handed a clipboard with a form to sign to join the donor register. Attached to the board was also a leaflet with the adorable face of Daniel De-Gale on it – a young man who battled Leukemia for many years who unfortunately passed away, aged 21, in 2008.
After watching a brief, emotional presentation by Daniel’s step-father, Orin Lewis OBE, we were both eager to fill in our forms and join the register.
Orin explained to us the lengths he and Daniel’s mother, Beverly De-Gale, went to to find a bone marrow donor match to save Daniel’s life. At the time, there was a 1 in 250,000 chance of finding a donor match due to incredibly low numbers of black people on the donor register. After campaigning with the help of celebrities and gaining global support, Daniel was lucky enough to find a match from a woman in the USA. Through her donations, Daniel was able to survive a 6 year battle against Leukeamia, within which he had two relapses.
To complete our registration process, we were lead through to a room of lovely ladies who checked our forms and took saliva samples.
By taking the saliva samples, our DNA was added to the register, meaning if ever someone in the world is in need of bone marrow, our DNA will be checked to see if we can help to save their life.
It was a quick and easy process, and within two minutes our application was complete, and we were ready to go through and eat delicious cupcakes with the other donors.
These delicious cupcakes were made by one of the ACLT miracle stories – Keyleigh. When Keyleigh was told that she had Leukeamia, the talented baker was told she would never be able to have children. Keyleigh was even told at one point that she would not be able to survive after a failed attempt at a bone marrow transfusion from her brother.
After receiving treatment and bone marrow from a donor, Keyleigh found out that not only had she overcome Leukaemia, but that she had overcome all odds by becoming pregnant with the beautiful Blake (below). If ever you needed proof that this charity has done achieved amazing things, this is it.
Along with miracle stories, donors and Leukaemia survivors, plenty of familiar faces also came to offer their support. Capital Xtra’s Abrantee and two members of Mandem On The Wall (Joivan Wade and Percelle Ascott) also came to show support and raise awareness.
Below is a picture of Abrantee and the Mandem on The Wall boys with Beverley De-Gale, Daniel De Gale’s mother, and co-founder of the charity.
It was truly inspiring to meet two talented young men who also felt strongly about supporting the ACLT. I’m sure my students will be jealous of the picture I managed to get with them below!
As always, it was also a pleasure to catch up with my fellow natural hair bloggers, [from left] Mary (@MarysHairObsession) Elle and Neicee (@NaturalHairDaily) and my sister Simone (@Simbafarian).
…Of course a selfie with Neicee and Elle was needed before the day was out!
It was also a pleasure to catch up with the incredibly talented and hard working Valentina (@valentina_etag) who came to help manage the Mandem On The Wall boys – thanks for taking this picture and making us laugh, lads!
Possibly the most inspiring yet humble people I had the pleasure of meeting was Naomi (below). She sat down and explained to me what it was like to donate bone marrow, removing any fears I had about what is actually a very simple procedure. She found out she was a match for someone when she was in University, and soon after went to hospital and donated her bone marrow in just 5 hours! She explained that it didn’t hurt and was pretty similar to giving blood, and the five hours flew by as she was given a DVD player and films to watch. Who knew that saving a life could be so easy!?
All in all it was an absolutely fantastic day and a huge success! Thank you to Tia who reached out to me asking me to get involved. It means so much to me to know that I could help to save someone’s life one day.
If you couldn’t make it, you can still get involved. There is still only a 1 in 100,000 chance of a black or mixed race person finding an unrelated donor match compared to there being a 1 in 5 chance for white people. Please follow this link to find where you can also sign up!
With Love from London,