Our story began with one family fighting to save someone they loved. When Mechtild Harf was told that the only treatment for her leukemia was a bone marrow transplant, she had no matching family members. At the time, there were only 3,000 potential stem cell donors on the German registry to provide a transplant. Confronted by the knowledge that his wife faced difficult odds in finding a matching donor, her husband Peter decided to apply his prolific business skills to the question of how to give his wife and patients like her the best chance at survival. The answer seemed clear: more unrelated donors meant better chances for all patients in need.
Peter founded DKMS with his wife’s transplant physician, Gerhard Ehninger, on the 28th of May 1991 and in our first year of operations we managed to expand the registry from 3,000 donors to 68,000. Despite the Harf family’s best efforts, Mechtild ultimately did not survive. However, before she passed away she made Peter promise her that he would not stop fighting until every patient had a matching donor and a potential second chance at life. Since then Peter and his daughter Katharina Harf, the Vice Chairwoman of the DKMS Foundation Board, have kept that promise. Motivated by the fate of their wife and mother, by 1995 Katharina and Peter had helped build DKMS into the world’s largest stem cell donor register and ever since we have worked tirelessly to fulfill our mission – to provide as many blood cancer patients as possible with a second chance at life.
Our organization is dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders by: creating awareness, recruiting bone marrow donors to provide a second chance at life, raising funds to match donor registration costs, and supporting the improvement of blood cancer therapies by our own research.
We also support patients from day one of their diagnoses, providing family and friends with a positive way to get involved by organizing bone marrow donor drives that can enhance your donor search, rally community support and provide hope.
Every gift you make helps us recruit more potential lifesavers.
With $45 you can help DKMS register one potential lifesaver. Because we don't want these costs preventing someone from becoming a potential lifesaver, we never require registrants to pay.
There are more ways to support our fight against blood cancer. You can host a drive, and spread the word to inspire others to register at the world's largest Bone Marrow Registry organization.
- We create awareness of blood cancer diseases and treatments.
- We recruit stem cell donors to give those in need of a stem cell donation a second chance at life.
- We engage the public as well as companies to organize donor registration events.
- We raise funds to increase both the size and diversity of the worldwide pool of available stem cell donors.
- We help to improve blood cancer treatment – through our own research and state-of-the-art technology in our laboratory
- We maintain our donor relationship from day one of registration until stem cell donation.
DKMS Life Science Lab is a tissue typing laboratory that has been set up in accordance with state-of-the-art scientific aspects, that is accredited pursuant to international guidelines (ASHI and EFI) and which is currently one of the world’s largest institutions of this type.
DKMS Life Science Lab conducts more than 60,000 HLA tissue typings (Loci) of stem cell donors for DKMS every month. HLA tissue typings and compatibility examinations are conducted for patients, family members and in the scope of the unrelated donor search as well as scientific studies. Over 1 million potential stem cell donors are typed each year.
Quality programs are used to ensure the continuous development and improvement in both the quality and the quantity of potential donors registered with DKMS. We are committed to efficiency and finding a matching donor for everyone in need of a stem cell donation as quickly as possible. Optimizing the quality of donor data is therefore one of our top priorities. By developing our own search algorithm, the Hap-E Search (Haplotype-Enhanced Search), we use patient findings to identify potential donors, identify suitable mismatch donors (with slight deviations in matching tissue characteristics) and enable automated searches. Other DKMS quality programs include the new typing of old donor data at our own expense, the targeted search for replacement donors and the ancestry program – which is used to find donors with rare combinations of tissue characteristics.
The Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) was founded in 2013 in Dresden, Germany, with the goal of promoting innovative research in the field of blood cancer. The department supports and performs research projects in order to help understand the implications of blood cancer treatment and improve the outcome for patients. Fundamental research, as well as international and interdisciplinary collaboration, is essential for this purpose.