Parents of Damary Dawkins urge people to join donor register following their son's death
PUBLISHED: 15:31 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:00 27 March 2019
The heartbroken parents of a schoolboy from Dagenham who died of leukaemia after a four year battle have paid tribute to their 'beautiful boy'.
Damary Dawkins passed away on March 17, almost three months after he had a blood stem cell transplant as part of his fight with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
His mother Nadine and father Tony said they were numb with grief over the loss of their ‘precious son.
They said: “Never did we imagine we’d be having to talk about the loss of our beautiful boy Damary.”
“We’re numb with grief that our precious son, who had so much to live for has passed away.
“Our family are broken and we are inconsolable.”
Damary was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2014 and after undergoing chemotherapy treatment medics said he needed a transplant if he had any hope of surviving.
However none of his family were a match so campaign #match4damary was launched by charity African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) to find a stem cell donor.
Currently 69 per cent of patients can find a match from a stranger, but this drops to just 20pc for those from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
A match was found in the US and Damary had his transplant just before Christmas.
His parents are appealing for more people to join the donor register and possibly save a life.
They said: “Whilst we sit here as a family grieving, each of us know the work to encourage people of all races to join the register must go on.
“Please don’t sit on the fence.
“Reach out to ACLT to find out all you need to know about joining the stem cell register.
“Our son didn’t beat his fight against leukaemia, however your registration might just lead to you helping someone else beat theirs.”
The Sydney Russell School pupil also gained the support of Premier League football club Crystal Palace, where he was a member of the elite development squad, which held a series of recruitment drives.
Beverley De-Gale, co-founder of ACLT, said: “All of us here at ACLT were devastated to hear the news of young Damary passing. Damary was a determined young boy; passionate about life.
“He enjoyed being active with swimming and martial arts, however football was his first love.
“Our thoughts are with his family, particularly his parents Nadine and Tony and sister Ptamone.
The loss of a loved one is devastating, however the loss of a child is incomprehensible.
“This is why I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for us all, to take action and join the stem cell registers as it could lead to us all saving a life like Damary’s”.
Damary’s story made national headlines after Manchester City and England footballer Raheem Sterling tweeted about his plight and visited him in Great Ormond Street hospital.
On Friday the footballer paid tribute to Damary during the England vs Czech Republic match at Wembley Stadium.
The midfielder lifted his England shirt after his second and third goal to reveal another t-shirt paying tribute to him.
Damary’s school also paid tribute by tying red ribbons on its gate and the surrounding area and pupils have been making and wearing orange ribbons in his honour.
Janis Davies, principal of Sydney Russell School, said: “We are proud to have had Damary as part of our community.
“Although Damary’s time with us was short he was able to win over the hearts of his teachers and classmates alike and make a positive contribution to our school.
“Whilst we celebrate his life we mourn the passing of this lovely young man.
“Damary was a sportsman through and through and quickly became known to our PE department and became an important player in our Year 7 football team.
“His discipline and ability on the pitch extended to the classroom, Damary made it ‘cool to be clever’.
“Candles are burning in the atrium of the Sydney Russell School and staff and students are leaving messages around them in tribute to a member of our school community.
“These are messages that will be collected and handed to the family.
“In memory of Damary’s life the students and staff of the school are looking to raise money for leukaemia research through a series of events as different as ‘wear a football shirt to school day ‘and a talent competition.
“The school’s thoughts are with Damary’s friends and family.”
A crowd fundraising page has been launched by a close friend of Damary’s parents to pay for his funeral as they had to take a considerable amount of time off work during their son’s illness.
To make a donation visit gofundme.com/damary-dawkins-campaign.
For more information about ACLT visit aclt.org.