Last week the charity ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) spent the day at SFX meeting with, educating and registering students and staff.
While some students observed a PowerPoint presentation on the work of ACLT during registration, others attended a talk from Orin Lewis MBE, one of the founders of the charity.
Orin talked about how he and his partner Beverley De-Gale knew they had to set up the charity in 1996 when their son Daniel De-Gale desperately needed to receive donated stem cells in order to beat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Due to a lack of black and mixed race people signed up to the stem cell register at the time, Daniel only had a 1 in 250,000 chance of finding a donor – had Daniel been white his chances would have been 1 in 4 or 5, as so many White Northern Europeans had signed up to the register over the years.
The aim of the charity was to target and encourage African Caribbean people to sign up as stem cell donors. Over 20 years on they are still raising awareness of the urgent need for stem cell, blood and organ donors across all races, with a key focus on the black, mixed race, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Since the start of the charity they have registered over 70,000 stem cell donors, tens of thousands of blood donors and over 4,000 organ donors (since 2010).
Students learnt about the key facts of donating stem cells, quashing any myths that they may have heard in the past that put them off donating, like the idea that bone marrow is a hard substance that has to be drilled out of the bone- in fact it is a liquid that is usually extracted in a similar way to donating blood.
Our students were clearly inspired by what they learnt in the tutorials and heard in Orin’s presentation- by the end of the day ACLT had registered 143 potential stem cell donors, 20 potential blood donors and received 7 registrations for organ donation!
For more information on ACLT visit their website.