The perfect match

Journey of a Swab.

You may wonder what happens to your cheek swabs once they are received by DKMS. The three swabs that carry your DNA after being swabbed against your cheeks arrive at the DKMS Life Science Lab in an ultra-sealed package.

Last updated: 02/02/2021

You may wonder what happens to your cheek swabs once they are received by DKMS. The three swabs that carry your DNA after being swabbed against your cheeks arrive at the DKMS Life Science Lab in an ultra-sealed package. Once received by the lab, a team of scientists analyzes your tissue type. Your cheek cells are tested for HLA tissue markers.

HLA = Human Leukocyte Antigens, or characteristics of human white blood cells.

These protein 'markers' are found on most cells in your body. Once HLA markers are identified, your individual HLA profile is created.

Your profile is entered anonymously into the US national bone marrow donor registry and available on the global database -- which will be used to find out if you are compatible with any patients searching for a lifesaving match. This process takes about 10-15 business days.

There is a great diversity of HLA and the cheek swab is currently tested for up to 12 characteristics. The best transplant outcomes occur when the patient's and donor's HLA closely match.


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