More than 20 years since they set up the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), following their son, Daniel De-Gale’s, battle with leukaemia and subsequent tragic death, co-founders Beverley De-Gale OBE and Orin Lewis OBE can continue to gain comfort from the fact that they are helping countless others in need.

The couple’s work through the ACLT has resulted in the charity saving over 60 lives through boosting the UK stem cell register from a mere 550 black individuals to over 70,000 people of all ethnicities, with about 70% of those from an African and Caribbean background.

A recent example of the critical work that the charity provides was evidenced recently when 23-year old May Brown, a young mother to two-year-old daughter Selina-May and wife to ex-British soldier Mike Brown, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid leukaemia in July 2015. She urgently needed a stem cell transplant to save her life. Following a #SaveMayBrown campaign, organised by ACLT, her sister Martha Williams, who resides in Nigeria was able to donate her stem cells ensuring a successful transplant and happy ending. Stem Cell - sign up to stem cell register, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT)
ACLT Beverley De-Gale and May Brown

May Brown said: “This opportunity has given me a second chance at life; enabling me to go back to being a mother to my beautiful daughter. I will forever be grateful to the great British public for the support they gave during my appeal and to London-based blood cancer charity ACLT, for the tremendous support and love they have shown me.”

Beverley De-Gale, said: “May’s appeal is probably one of the most challenging campaigns our small charity has managed in the last 20+ years. We’ve been working closely with her since August last year to ensure the outcome; Martha being in the UK to donate stem cells to her sister, became a reality. It feels surreal that it has now happened, despite the many hurdles we faced. It is still early days for May, however we wish her all the best as she starts a new chapter in her life.”

However, positive cases such as this are extremely rare. There are still too few people of African and Caribbean heritage signed on to the stem cell register; a black, Asian or ethnic minority individual living with blood cancer has less than a 20% chance of finding the best possible match from an unrelated donor (White British individuals on the other hand have a 60% chance).

ACLT has recruited thousands of blood and organ donors, but more of us need to sign up. Please take a moment to visit website to find out more on how you can join the stem cell register and help save the lives of those in desperate need.

Below are some facts about Blood Cancer

  • Someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 20 minutes
  • Around 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger each year. This is usually their last chance of survival.
  • You have a 25% to 30% chance of having the same tissue type as a sibling
  • 80% of African/Caribbean people needing a lifesaving transplant, will NOT find a matching donor compared with at best, 10% of White Northern Europeans
  • 90% of donations take place via PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell donation). This is an outpatient appointment and is as simple donating blood.

Contact ACLT: Website:  / Twitter & Instagram: @acltcharity / Facebook: The ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust)

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