Over 100 register in support of #Donate4Damary
More than 100 people signed up to be potential blood stem cell donors at a recruitment drive led by Palace for Life Foundation and DKMS in support of 12-year-old Damary Dawkins. The young footballer has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and urgently needs a blood stem cell transplant that could potentially save his life.
The drive was held at Whitgift Centre in Croydon on Tuesday 2 October where people aged between 17-55 and in general good health were encouraged to register as potential lifesavers.
Foundation coach Pat Gordon has been working with the family and helped to organise the event. He said: “We were absolutely delighted with the turnout and the enthusiasm of local people to stop and offer their support. I have known Damary for a number of years and he is such a lovely boy and a talented footballer, it was amazing to have him and his dad Tony join us on the day. I would also like to give thanks to Croydon College who have been been very supportive throughout.
“We are now all hoping we can find Damary a match that could save his life and I would urge anyone reading this to register with DKMS if they haven’t already.”
At the age of nine, in 2015, Damary was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). ALL is a type of cancer that leads to a larger number of white blood cells in the blood and lower number of red blood cells and platelet cells.
Damary is naturally a very active child who enjoys swimming and playing football and is currently a member of Palace for Life Foundation’s Elite Player Development Centre in Bromley. The treatment course was set to last three years, with Damary receiving the strongest chemotherapy available for leukaemia.
Speaking to the Croydon Advertsier, Damary’s Dad Anthony Dawkins said: “The chemo is what’s suppressing the cancer cells at the moment. A transplant is the only chance of survival he’s got and he needs a match by Christmas.
“This is the reason we are looking for donations in the black community – as not a great deal of people sign up to (the register).
“At the end of the day, it’s not just about helping my son out – there’s other children in his position. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. If people can’t help my son there’s a chance they could help somebody else.”
Donor Recruitment Manager at DKMS Porsha Nunes-Brown addded: “A big thank you to those that volunteered, registered and donated funds on the day. It was great to see so many people from the local community supporting Damary’s appeal for a matching blood stem cell donor. If you weren’t able to attend the event, please register at www.dkms.org.uk/Damary to give Damary or someone else in a similar position a second chance at life.”
A blood stem cell donation is often the only chance of survival for many blood cancer and blood disorder patients. Sadly, many patients will not find a matching donor. This isn’t because a match doesn’t exist, it’s simply because there aren’t enough people registered as donors. That is why DKMS works to increase the size and diversity of the blood stem cell registry.
Anyone in the UK aged between 17 and 55 and in good general health can register with DKMS. To register, the charity asks potential blood stem cell donors to give consent and a three-minute swab sample from the inside of their cheek. This is done at one of their donor recruitment events or via requesting a kit from their website.
The swab is analysed to establish tissue characteristics, with information added anonymously to the UK Stem Cell Registry. If the tissue type is matched to a patient now or in the future, around 90% of blood stem cell donations in the UK are collected via the bloodstream. Around 10% of blood stem cell donations in the UK are made via a donation of bone marrow collected from the back of the pelvic bone.
It costs DKMS £40 to register a new potential blood stem cell donor. As a charity, DKMS relies on contributions from the public to help cover these costs. Anyone wishing to help DKMS reach and register more potential lifesavers can donate at www.dkms.org.uk.