Could you be my match?

 In Stem Cell News

Excellent video from Could You Be My Match? promoting stem cells.  We liked this video so much that we decided to include this within our blog.

Created in memory of Londoner Kevin Kararwa, the 3.5 minute film entitled “Could you be my Match” was written and directed by film graduate Maddie Gatabaki, a dear friend to Kevin

 

Just 1 in 3 African Caribbeans would be supportive if a young family member donated stem cells

In April 2012 Kevin was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He went onto receive intensive chemotherapy but sadly this wasn’t enough to beat the leukaemia. After a worldwide search of volunteer donor registries and donor appeals set up by ACLT of which hundreds of East Africans responded to the appeal, sadly a match could not be found for Kevin. Doctors decided Kevin’s only chance was to receive a 50% matched transplant donation from his younger brother Ian

‘Black people are dying – not because their donor isn’t out there, but because that person never joined the register…’

Kevin’s story hit the national news May 2014 when he suffered a 2nd relapse and Consultant’s at King’s College Hospital, London confirmed there was nothing more they could do for him – he had only weeks to live

On 19th May 2014 Kevin passed away – he was just 24 years of age

During the last few days of his life Kevin’s final wishes to his mother and close friend Maddie was for his story “to be the catalyst in creating further awareness on stem cell (bone marrow) donation within the African and Caribbean community like never before”. Maddie Gatabaki says “Kevin asked me to use my film studies degree to create a short film which raised awareness on the fact that there were 30 times more white people than black people on the UK stem cell register. He wanted to inspire 2,400 people to join the register (100 people for each day of his life) and to raise £24,000 for ACLT, the charity who were supporting his mother, brother and him throughout his treatment and during the final weeks of his life”

Within her role at ACLT, our co-founder Beverley De-Gale provided support to Kevin and his family. She too, was familiar with the experience of searching for a matching donor, as her son Daniel De-Gale had been diagnosed with leukaemia in 1993. After years of campaigning to find a non related donor one was found and Daniel went onto become the UK’s first black recipient of an unrelated stem cell donation in June 1999. He beat his fight against leukaemia and lived a happy life for several years, however on the 8th October 2008, Daniel sadly passed away due to complications with his health

In the midst of Daniel’s six year campaign, Daniel’s mother Beverley and step-father Orin Lewis founded the ACLT with the aim to increase the numbers of African, Caribbean and mixed race individuals on the UK stem cell register. Beverley De-Gale says: “Like so many families we faced an agonising wait to find a matching donor for our son Daniel. Unlike Kevin, Daniel was lucky enough to eventually find a donor and he went onto live a happy life surrounded with family and friends for several more years. Kevin’s family didn’t have a second lifeline and now he has sadly passed away. In order to prevent families going through this painful experience we need more African, Caribbean and mixed race people to join the stem cell register”

If you are aged between 17 to 55 you can join the Delete Blood Cancer UK register.

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