De-Gale Receives Highest British Honor
WI Staff Report | 6/15/2011, 9:40 p.m.
A mother who launched a remarkable campaign to recruit bone marrow donors after her 8-year-old son developed leukemia said he will be "smiling" from heaven as she was awarded an OBE. Beverley De-Gale received the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday 2011 Honours List by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary in recognition for services to Healthcare.
De-Gale, 51, took action in 1996 when she learned her son, Daniel, faced odds of one in 250,000 of finding a donor match as a member of an ethnic minority. At the time only 550 people on the 285,000-strong UK bone marrow donor register came from an African or Caribbean background making it almost impossible for Black people suffering the disease of to find a suitable match. The picture was the same across the world. With her partner, Orin Lewis, she founded the African Caribbean Leukemia Trust, which works to change attitudes, sign up new donors and match would-be donors around the world with sufferers in dire need.
"I am both proud and delighted to be awarded this honor by Her Majesty the Queen for my services to Healthcare in Britain and I feel very honored to accept it on behalf of my children, my late mother and father, family and everyone associated with the life saving groundbreaking work of the ACLT," De-Gale said.
The charity has signed up 35,000 bone marrow donors from the Black and mixed race communities and has saved at least 31 lives in the last 14 years. Daniel eventually found a donor and lived for another nine years, going through university, but died from complications in 2008.
"I would never have imaged that I would be standing here 15 years later in the exact month of when the charity was born and almost to the day on the 16th June 1999 when Daniel finally received his transplant. However as much as I feel completely overwhelmed with emotion and pride receiving his momentous personal accolade it is also tinged with a feeling of bitter sweetness, because the catalyst and inspiration for this award, Daniel is now no longer with us having succumbed to an unrelated illness at the age of 21 in October 2008,"De-Gale said.
The OBE award arrives at a significant time for the ACLT, following a successful appeal where over 120,000 ($240,000) was raised by the general public between January - March this year, to help secure the short to medium future of the charity. The ACLT continue to work hard in spreading awareness on Bone Marrow, Blood and Organ donation within the Black, Asian and Mixed Race communities in the UK, encouraging individuals to join the registers in the hope their donation could potentially become a life saving match.
With over 17.1 million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register and only 1.5 per cent of these are from the Asian communities and a woeful 0.4 per cent are from the Black community, the ACLT life saving work is vital to assist with increasing the opportunities to save lives when Bone Marrow, Blood or Organ donation is required.