Potential lifesavers join stem cell register in memory of Dagenham schoolboy Damary Dawkins
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 December 2019
Potential lifesavers have signed up to the stem cell register at a donor drive in memory of a Dagenham schoolboy who lost his battle with leukaemia.
Damary Dawkins, 13, was initially diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2015, and went through three years of chemotheraphy.
But in the summer of 2018, just a few weeks before his treatment was due to end, his parents Nadine and Tony were told he had relapsed and that his only chance of survival was a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
With the help of blood cancer charities African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) and DKMS, the #Match4Damary appeal was launched, encouraging people from African and Carribean backgrounds to join the stem cell register.
People from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background have just a 20 per cent chance of finding a suitable donor, compared to 69 per cent of those from a white European background.
And despite Damary receiving his transplant shortly before Christmas last year, he relapsed in February and passed away on March 17 this year.
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Damary's plight was supported by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson and Manchester City and England midfielder Raheem Sterling - the latter revealing a t-shirt in tribute to the schoolboy after scoring against the Czech Republic in March.
And now, a year after Damary's transplant, his parents have helped to organise a stem cell donor registration drive in his memory.
The event took place at The Church of Pentecost, in Green Lane, Dagenham, on Sunday, December 8 and saw around 70 people sign up.
Cheek swabs were taken from potential donors, whose details will then be added to the UK stem cell registry - which can be searched to help people all over the world who are in need of a genetic match.
Beverley De-Gale, co-founder at ACLT, said: "Despite the loss of Damary earlier this year, Tony and Nadine have continued to work with the ACLT to raise awareness on the lack of potential donors on the UK stem cell register.
"It's an absolute honour to work alongside them and the senior members of The Church of Pentecost, Dagenham to continue Damary's legacy and raise awareness on stem cell donation within the 300+ congregation.
For more information about being a stem cell donor, visit aclt.org