In memory of Daniel De Gale 1987 to 2008 aged just 21
His childhood cancer battle inspired bone marrow donation among Britain’s ethnic minorities
Daniel De Gale, who died one year ago on 8 October 2008 aged 21, was a former leukaemia patient who helped promote much-needed bone marrow donations from the black community.
The severe shortage of black donors when Daniel was diagnosed with the cancer at the age of six inspired his parents - Beverley De Gale and Orin Lewis - to found the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust with the aim of increasing the number of people from ethnic minorities on the UK Bone Marrow Register.
Daniel David De Gale (14 March 1987 – 8 October 2008) inspired a major push to promote awareness of Leukaemia in the United Kingdom's black community when, as a child, his mother and stepfather launched a search for suitable bone marrow donors and a charity. more
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The charity was successful in recruiting donors from the police force, fire brigade and at universities and colleges. Volunteers worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for donors and staged recruitment registration clinics across the UK, focussing on towns and cities with a large black population. They also supported families suffering because of leukaemia.
They were helped during the 1990s by celebrities such as black footballers John Barnes, Ian Wright and John Fashanu, pop stars the Sugababes and Beverley Knight, the actor Colin Salmon and the Duchess of York.
As he grew up, Mr De Gale became a spokesman for the organisation and appeared frequently on television to talk about his ordeal.
Recently the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust reported that the number of black people on the UK Bone Marrow Register had risen by nearly 300%, from 550 in 1995 to 15,500.
Mr De Gale's own battle against cancer was long and difficult, undergoing chemotherapy and suffering two relapses between 1993 and 1999. He was eventually able to beat the disease when a suitable donor was found in America. After a successful bone marrow transplant, he resumed a normal life and completed his education.
He died from an illness unrelated to cancer.
The charity released a statement in tribute to him and said the charity’s work would continue: “This beautiful boy inspired so many of us and we will continue to illuminate the path, with his light, so others may be guided to safety. In this life there are those sent to us to manifest wisdom, action and bring joy; Daniel was one of those spirits.
“The pain we are all feeling right now reflects the love he generated in so many of us. Not a love of celebrity or fame, but a love of life and ultimately this gift of life we have all been given. Beautiful Daniel De Gale, it has been an honour and the purest of pleasures to know you and call you a friend. Peace.”
The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust worked closely with another bone marrow charity, the Anthony Nolan Trust. Ann-Margaret Little said: "It's so distressing to learn of Daniel's death. He was an inspiration for our work in partnership with Beverley and Orin and the ACLT.
"Daniel helped motivate hundreds of individuals, particularly from minority populations, to join The Anthony Nolan Trust's bone marrow register. Many of these donors will go on to provide life-saving transplants for patients throughout the world."
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