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Give the gift of life in 2013

SURVIVOR: Nevaeh Green with her sister Kyra and brother Trenae

BLACK COMMUNITIES are being urged to make a decision this New Year to give the gift of life.

Orin Lewis, co-founder and chief executive of the African and Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), told The Voice this is one of the charity’s top wishes for 2013.

“During these very troubled times in the world where guns, knives and drugs are destroying our children’s lives and the moral fabric of society, we at the ACLT hope that people will come together…to spread much needed love, joy, hope and peace,” said Lewis, whose charity has helped raise awareness and encouraged thousands of ethnic minorities to register as blood and bone marrow donors.

“Therefore my wish for 2013 is let’s stop shedding blood on the streets and instead give blood. Register as a bone marrow and organ donor to save a life, any life.”

His comments came as three families spoke about how their lives have improved because of kind-hearted blood and bone marrow donations from registered ethnic minority donors. The Voice highlights them below.

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Nevaeh Green, leukaemia survivor

LITTLE NEVAEH, age five, has bravely battled leukaemia since 2009.

But for the first time in three years, her siblings - Kyra, 15 and Trenae, 12 - said they were relieved that this year, they would not have to spend Christmas and the New Year watching her battle cancer or “have to worry about emergency hospital visits or her becoming ill.”

Instead, they said they were looking forward to the festive season and being able to “celebrate like most other families.”
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Diana Kaganda, awaiting bone marrow transplant

DIANA KAGANDA, who has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), is also hoping for good news in 2013. The ACLT said she is about to receive a life saving bone marrow transplant.

Diana said: “One thing I know is that life is a blessing. We have a choice to dwell on the bad or to rejoice in the good. I chose the latter, and it’s been the best decision I have ever made. I have met incredible people and sailed through my leukaemia (cancer) treatments to the amazement of my doctors, family and friends. It’s incredible how far a positive attitude and smile can get you.

“2013 will no doubt be an unpredictable year for me but guess what? I am going to continue loving everyone in my life with all my heart, cherishing the very simple moments of my life and laughing through the crap. In times of fear I look to this quote: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.”

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Sapphire Timson, needs regular blood transfusions

BLOOD DONORS have ensured that Sapphire Timson, 12, can lead a better life. The schoolgirl, from Croydon in Surrey, suffers from sickle cell anaemia and other related health conditions that require her to have constant blood transfusions, strong antibiotics and induced comas to combat pain, breathe better and stay alive.

Despite progress, the ACLT says Sapphire may need a bone marrow transplant before her 16th birthday. But Sapphire, one of the ACLT’s youngest volunteers, remains positive.

“When things get tough and the pain sets in, I try to focus on the little things I can do or what really matters to me and my family,” Sapphire said. “I like helping others as they help me too. That’s why I like volunteering for the ACLT and Croydon Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Support Group.”

The 12-year-old was recently recognised for her courage and upbeat outlook at the Spirit of London Awards (SOLA), where she was named ‘Young London Hero’.

Sapphire has also been recognised with a 2012 Croydon Child of Courage award.
She hopes 2013 will see more young people living their dreams and greater numbers of celebrities helping to raise awareness about sickle cell anaemia and blood donation.

“I really wish more celebrities would help spread the word. At the awards ceremony I got to meet a lot of cool people. But I couldn’t help but think ‘Are any of you registered as a blood or bone marrow donor?’”

■ For more information on ways to help other families, visit www.aclt.org or call 02082404480.

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