Palace join DKMS to find a lifesaving donor for Damary

Fans urged to register as blood stem cell donors for #Donate4Damary and attend a registration event on Tuesday 2 October at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon.

Crystal Palace FC and Palace for Life Foundation have teamed up with blood cancer charity DKMS in a bid to urge fans to register as potential lifesavers 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.

On Tuesday 2 October, from 9-5pm, there will be a public registration event at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, where people can be tested to see if they are a match for Damary.

Damary recently had the opportunity to visit Crystal Palace’s Training Ground, where he received the support of players and manager Roy Hodgson, who urged supporters to lend their help.

Damary Dawkins Palace For Life DKMS, Beckenham, UK - 3 Aug 2018

Roy Hodgson with Damary

“It was a pleasure to meet Damary and his family and welcome them to the Training Ground. Damary is a big football fan and a promising young player and we were all impressed by his bravery and composure at what must be a very difficult time. It would be fantastic if we could help to find a match for Damary that could save his life and I would urge Palace fans to register with DKMS,” said Hodgson.

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.

Damary with Palace players

Damary with Palace players

The family were told his treatment would end in July 2018 with Damary then being free from cancer but instead received the news that he had relapsed. Doctors have said Damary’s best chance of survival is a blood stem cell transplant because the cancer is more aggressive than before and chemotherapy alone will not work.

A search of Damary’s family has not found a match so he is now relying on a complete stranger to be his potential lifesaver. Damary’s African-Caribbean heritage means the search is even harder because there is a lack of black, Asian and mixed-race donors on the stem cell registry.

Patients from Black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for those from British Irish and northern European backgrounds.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia. Every year, over 12,000 people die from blood cancers in the UK – making it the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

Individuals have the opportunity to register as blood stem cell donors online at dkms.org.uk/Damary and potentially save the life of someone with a blood cancer or blood disorder, like Damary.

Porsha Nunes-Brown, Donor Recruitment Manager at DKMS UK said: “Damary is often in and out of the hospital and desperately needs a blood stem cell transplant. Please register online at dkms.org.uk/Damary and help find a matching donor for Damary or someone else in need of a blood stem cell transplant. Registering as a potential blood stem cell donor is so easy to do, but I can’t emphasise enough how important it is. It could lead to you saving a life”.

Damary with Wilf Zaha

Damary with Wilf Zaha

Donor Registration

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.