L'ART Magazine

L'ART Magazine

UK Black History Month: Join The ACLT & Their Black Gold Rush Quest

October 17, 2013 | Daniella & Letisha Jones-Ellis

PART TWO

Today Thursday October 17th is the first day this month that you can get yourself down to a BeTheHero donor registration event in Stratford, all in aid of the BeTheHero campaign to find a donor for Roger Moore.

Yesterday we gave you part one of your UK Black History Month feature with blood donor Roger Moore’s story to find a stem cell donor match that could save his life and help him beat his diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia, an aggressive life threatening blood cancer which he is currently taking chemotherapy for at London Clinic.

This hunt for the ‘perfect stranger’ begins today and you can help by getting down to Westfield’s Stratford Shopping Centre between 10am and 8pm.

You know Roger’s story, but do you know the history of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), their goal and the statistics which the charity and its cause faces? Today L’ART give you all you need to know and more as we support the BeTheHero campaign and the Black Gold Rush.

‘In October the black communities and the nation join reflection and celebration of Black talent, contribution and achievement, then look ahead to empower the community further to meet current challenges and deliver on future aspirations. Daniel beat leukaemia thanks to perfect strangers, one life saving bone marrow donor and hundreds of blood donors.

Just like Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Daniel had a dream. Daniel wanted ACLT to fast-track ethnic minority communities to give blood.’

Did you know that less than 1% of the 800,000 donors on the UK registry are Black African Caribbean, African or Black mixed race? ‘Alas there are no bone marrow registries in the Caribbean. UK donors are the key.’

It is because of this fact why the ACLT was founded in 1996. Co-founder Beverley De-Gale OBE had a want to increase the awareness of the lack of blood and stem cell donors for ethnic minority communities and saw it as her duty to increase the donor numbers. ‘The ACLT charity specialise in recruiting bone marrow, blood and organ donors from diverse ethnic minorities to become registered on the UK donors list’ and deliver the key message of volunteer donors being vital.

Beverley also had personal reasons of her own, as at the young age of six her son was diagnosed with leukaemia. The ACLT was inspired by Daniel De-Gale who went on to be the first Black UK bone marrow transplant recipient.

‘A match was found- that’s down to true grit, massive community awareness and mobilisation to act fast, by every means necessary,’ she said.

‘Leukaemia can affect any one of us at any time of life… The tragic loss of life and talent IS preventable if more people took the time to donate and help others. Black people are very under-represented on all registers. People do care, but need to show it, take personal ownership, act NOW and sign up.’

And the number of people showing that they do care about Roger’s story has been overwhelming to those closest to him, including Roger himself. Describing the unity of friends and family as admirable, the quest to boost donor registration continues to improve the chances of survival for blood cancer patients UK and worldwide. In all case scenarios, it is the family who are first checked for being a match, but around 70% of patients need healthy stem cells donated by an unknown donor in order for their unhealthy stem cells to be replaced with new ones.

Do you know how easy it is to sign up as potential stem cell donor? A cheek swab is taken in 15 minutes, so if you’re aged 17 to 55 you can help. You’ll be amazed at how similar a stem cell donation is to a blood donation, which on average has a duration of 30 minutes. ‘It’s an easy way to have an immeasurable impact on somebody’s life.

‘We need everyone including the Black Caribbean and African communities… come together, step up and BeTheHero to help find a match for Roger.’

Save the ‘Black future’ and help Roger, the ACLT and all patients in need achieve the Black Gold Rush this UK Black History Month and let’s see 500 donors registered for the 5th anniversary of Daniel’s death. ‘Every blood donor is special.’

Don’t forget you can also sponsor the fundraising skydive taking place next month (see yesterday’s part one) and attend the next donor registration event taking place at Global Radio, Capital XTRA (formerly Choice FM), 30 Leicester Square, London between 11am and 4pm.

FACTS:

The ACLT charity are the UK’s leading charity in their field

New charity Delete Blood Cancer UK is working with the ACLT supporting Roger’s appeal with registration events far and wide

The ACLT charity has boosted the number of Black, Asian minority ethnic (BAME) donors from 550 to approx 50,000 people and saved 47 lives.

Every day 200 people from African Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds give blood.

Ethnic minority is important when it comes to donor match. Thousands of genes determine bone marrow tissue types, inherited and related to ethnic groups. African-Caribbean people are genetically diverse, the greatest chance of finding a donor match within their own ethnic group.