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Saturday, July 31, 1999 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK


Daniel recovers after marrow transplant

The campaign for a donor was backed by footballer Ian Wright

A young leukaemia sufferer who waited six years for a bone marrow transplant has returned home.

Daniel De Gale, 12, was diagnosed as having acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 1993, but a shortage of black donors meant no suitable match could be found.

[ image: Daniel with his mother before the operation]
Daniel with his mother before the operation
It was not until footballer Ian Wright and the Duchess of York backed a high-profile campaign, that Daniel could be given a transplant.

Daniel's operation was carried out six weeks ago at Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London.

He was then kept in an isolation ward before doctors allowed him back to his home in Thornton Heath, south London, on Friday.

'Long way to go'

After four years of chemotherapy, Daniel's body had become so weak that he would have been unable to stand another dose.

But after the transplant Dr David Webb, consultant haematologist at Great Ormond Street, said he was satisfied with Daniel's progress.

[ image: The Duchess of York appealed on TV in the US and the UK]
The Duchess of York appealed on TV in the US and the UK
"We're very pleased that Daniel has done well so far, but there is still a long way to go," he said.

"We will be monitoring Daniel's progress as an outpatient. Both Daniel and his parents have been very strong during his eight week stay."

Meanwhile his stepfather, Orin Lewis, said Daniel was "exhausted but happy", and thanked the "wonderful donor" who had only recently joined the register.

Daniel will have to return to hospital for regular check-ups, and take 10 doses of drugs every day to prevent infection.

One-in-120,000 chance

Blood donors among the British Afro-Caribbean community are so scarce that Daniel had only a one-in-120,000 chance of finding a suitable match - compared with a white person's one-in-five chance.

[ image: The operation was carried out at Great Ormond Street hospital]
The operation was carried out at Great Ormond Street hospital
His parents set up the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) in an attempt to raise the profile of the problem.

Great Ormond Street said the trust had boosted the number of registered Afro-Caribbean donors from 500 to more than 10,000 with its celebrity-backed campaign.

The drive was such a success that at one point 700 people queued in freezing conditions outside Tesco's in Brixton, south London, to join the bone marrow register.

This means that many other black children with leukaemia now have the chance of finding a donor, said the hospital.

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