Coronavirus FAQs

As an international non-profit organization, every day DKMS provides 20 lifesaving blood stem cell transplants for blood cancer and blood disorder patients all around the world. Even in the current situation that we are facing with COVID-19, these patients still urgently need our help. It is for this reason that we keep fighting and continue to work together and collaborate with the international blood stem cell community to be able to overcome all barriers, to give as many patients as possible, who are in urgent need of a life-saving blood stem cell transplant, with a second chance at life.

IMPORTANCE OF REGISTRATION

Due to the advice and directions from the health authorities regarding the COVID-19 virus and to play our part to flatten the curve, we have postponed all of our planned donor drives/registration events in all of our six countries. We want to make sure that we look after and protect all of our donors and volunteers. For the thousands of patients around the world who are not able to find a perfect match, we still urgently need to add more donors to the database. We are thankful for every registration and you can still order your registration kit online at www.dkms.org. Registering is simple and straightforward and you can become a potential lifesaver!

PROTECTING OUR DONORS

Patients around the world still urgently need blood stem cell transplants to survive. This is why we ask all of our donors to make themselves available if they are a match for a patient. The health and well-being of our donors is our number one priority and we consider every case on an individual basis. We will always do everything possible to ensure the safety of our donors.

We have implemented screening for the COVID-19 virus risks before entry to collection centers and before the start of a donation.

These measures serve to protect the donor as well as the recipient and the employees in the collection centers. Health experts have confirmed that there is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted via blood, bone marrow, or stem cell products.

We are grateful for every one of our incredible donors and for their commitment to providing patients with a second chance at life.

TRANSPORT OF BLOOD STEM CELL PRODUCTS

75% of all of our life-saving blood stem cell collections from DKMS donors travel across borders to patients in other countries. Due to the travel restrictions imposed by many countries because of the COVID-19 virus, we are faced with additional challenges in ensuring patients receive their transplant.

When it comes to transplants, time is crucial and we are determined to find solutions to be able to provide patients in need with their transplant. We are joining forces with other members of the international transplant community and national and international authorities in order to overcome these challenges. Despite the added difficulties that we are facing at the moment, as always, we are determined to overcome all barriers in order to provide as many patients as possible with a second chance at life.


What you should know

Why do all DKMS donor drives and registration events remain on hold?

Based on the advice and directions from the health authorities regarding the COVID-19 virus, we made the original decision to postpone all of our planned donor drives and registration events in all of our seven countries. The health and safety of our staff, donors, volunteers, and supporters are always our priority. Due to the current situation, the donor drives and registration events will remain on hold for the foreseeable future since holding such events would place unnecessary risk on everyone involved in and attending the event.

We remain committed to our mission of providing as many second chances at life as possible to blood cancer and blood disorder patients around the world. Thousands of patients are still searching for a matching donor and that is why it is extremely important to continue to register as many donors as possible. We encourage everyone who is able to, to register online and order a swab kit at www.dkms.org. Registering is simple and straightforward and you could become a potential lifesaver!

Am I still able to register online if suspect I may have or do have Covid-19?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to register as a blood stem cell donor for anyone who is under ordered quarantine. This includes acute COVID-19 patients, those who have recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and people they have been in contact with. Please wait until you are no longer in quarantine and are able to leave your home before ordering a swab kit so that you will also be able to safely return it to us.

What if I am not allowed to leave the house? How should I return my kit?

We ask everyone to please follow the guidelines and regulations in place for your local area, our donors’ safety is our number one priority and this means both potential and registered donors. If you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, have recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed with the COVID-19 virus or if local authorities have advised you to stay at home then please wait until you are able to leave home to do your cheek swab and return your kit to us. However, if you are able to leave your home, then we are always happy to receive completed registration kits! Please remember that the swab kits are fine to use for approximately two years, so while we normally ask you to please return them as soon as possible, due to the current circumstances, please only do this when it is safe you for to do so. However, once you have done your check swabs it is always best if we receive your swabs within 2 – 3 weeks, so if you are not able to currently post your swabs back then please wait to do your check swabs until you know that you can send them back. Please remember, if you have already done your swabs then please only send them back once it is safe to do so.

When I receive my swab kit, is it safe to handle? Should I wear gloves?

Human coronaviruses are not very stable on dry surfaces, such as paper or cardboard; this means that they do not survive very long on these materials. The stability depends on many factors, including the temperature, humidity, the viral quantity, and the material. According to a US publication(1) from March 17th, the decay of the COVID-19 virus in a dried state takes up to 24 hours on cardboard, which as a material can be compared to our swab kits. Therefore, the transmission is unlikely, but cannot be excluded. To protect yourself from virus transmission through possibly contaminated surfaces we advise donors to follow the general hygiene recommendations such as regularly washing your hands and avoiding touching your face. (1) https://www.nejm.org

More ways to help

You can support DKMS in many ways and give hope to many blood cancer patients.
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