ACLT continues to give hope and life

Gift of Life Ball raises thousands while sharing important messages

ENGAGING: Nine-year-old Miai Phillip was saluted by ACLT founders Beverley de-Gale, Orin Lewis and the entire audience at the 12th Gift of Life Ball (Photos: Black Ink)

THOUSANDS OF pounds were generated at the recent African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) 12th Gift of Life Ball.

Hosted by Smooth FM’s Angie Greaves and Scott Charlton, the occasion proved another important and inspirational night for attendees.

The ACLT is the leading blood cancer/disorder charity dedicated to raising awareness of the severe shortage of donors on United Kingdom bone marrow, blood, organ donor registers.

The charity promotes, educates and recruits lifesavers especially from black, mixed race and minority ethnic communities which are seriously under-represented. 

Co-founded by Beverley De-Gale OBE and Orin Lewis OBE, after their son, Daniel De-Gale, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, the ACLT continues to do amazing work for the community.

Daniel became the first black British recipient of a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Sadly, due to other complications with his health Daniel passed in October 2008.

In his memory over 150 plus lives have been saved and in excess of 150,000 potentially lifesaving stem cell donors registered. The charity has also registered thousands of new blood and organ donors, saving many more lives

The recent gala occasion was attended by a host of star names including Akala, Andy Cole, Dwain Chambers, Chris Hughton, Shaun Wallace and Brenda Emmanus among others.

All those attendance were reminded of the desperate need to involve themselves with organ and blood donation.

Throughout the night there were heart wrenching testimonies from those in need of help.

Among them was nine-year-old Miai Phillip. The charming youngster told her audience: “It’s a real honour to be here.

“When people first meet me they see a cheeky, chatty, confident little girl. I do normal things like swimming, drawing and BMX riding.

“Sometimes I have lots of energy to do all of these things but other times I feel extremely tired – and that’s because I have Sickle Cell Anaemia which is a hereditary blood disorder which affects the shape and function of my red blood cells.

“This causes crippling pain which is called a ‘crisis’. There are many complications to sickle cell anaemia and sadly, in serious cases, it can prove fatal.

“The only known cure is a bone marrow transplant which is only offered in extreme circumstances. But I am sickle cell warrior; I will fight the battles and celebrate the victories.

HAPPY DAYS: Attendees at the ACLT event

“I try not to let it get me down. I have learnt to be very determined and manage my illness with positivity, medication and staying hydrated.

“The pain can be unbearable. One minute I’m fine and the next, mum is reaching into the medicine cabinet. If that fails, I’m admitted to hospital.

“As a last resort, the doctor’s bring out that magic bag of blood donated by a kind stranger. Within an hour my personality returns until my mum keeps nagging me to ‘keep the volume down, it’s a hospital you know!

“Already I have had eight transfusions and I can assure you that they are a game-changer.

“Many people believe that all blood is the same and it shouldn’t matter who needs it. My blood type is B.

“It is very important for us to encourage our community to donate to ensure that there is enough blood to meet demand. I have big dreams of becoming an actor, entrepreneur, vet and make-up artist.

“Those people that have donated blood have helped me keep those dreams alive. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. The work that the ACLT do is invaluable, providing hope to individuals.

“Although the charity has won multiple awards in the last 23 years they don’t receive any government funding and are supported by the community. Therefore, it is our responsibility to do what we can.”

TRIO: Beverley De-Gale, co-host Angie Greaves and Brenda Emmanus

BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter DJ Ace also shared his story. He said: I am currently waiting for a kidney as I was diagnosed with renal failure in 2018.

“I was a bit naïve and thought that if I just go for dialysis under the radar, I can just get through it. Being on dialysis three times a week makes things hard and it does take its toll.

“I was on dialysis for months and months. Then one day Bev and Orin came to see me and broke down to me why it is important for me to talk to members of my family and friends about organ donation, and about possibly getting a kidney from one of my loved ones.

“I’ve realised that with my platform I can help to raise awareness for what ACLT have to do. I’m sure I’m going to get a kidney very soon but even afterwards I want to work with the ACLT.

“I want to help spread the message. I want to say a big thank you to Bev and Orin, who are like my new mum and dad.

Orin added: “As a community we need to step up. We have a silent crisis over organ donation. We have a silent donation over blood donation.

“If the influential people in this room can’t do it, damn us.”

Beverley revealed: “One donation of blood can save three adults lives or six babies. Those that donate are enhancing lives.”

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