Press Release

DKMS celebrates 100,000 second chances at life

A strong symbol of hope for blood cancer and blood disorder patients worldwide in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant

DKMS celebrates 100,000 blood stem cell/bone marrow donors and 100,000 second chances at life

Today, DKMS celebrates a significant milestone in the organization’s history: 100,000 second chances at life provided to a patient with blood cancer or another blood disorder. For the international nonprofit organization, this wonderful accomplishment is far more than a number or a benchmark: every single second chance at life represents a patient and their personal story. These are the stories of people, both young and old, of their families and friends, stories of shattering sadness and fear, and stories of hope and overwhelming joy as well as another 100,000 donor stories.

There are stories like Patrick. In 2018, Patrick was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. And while that news would have been debilitating for anyone, this healthy, active, former football player knew that he couldn’t stay benched. Luckily, a donor from the United Kingdom happened to be Patrick’s perfect genetic twin, and he was given a full second chance at life. Patrick knew this gift was the key to adding meaning to his life and not something he takes lightly. Patrick is using his second chance at life to inspire others to take action in the same way his donor did, “I felt like I needed to do something…now I know I want to inspire people with my story.”

Stories like Patrick’s, along with all the other stories of the 100,000 second chances at life, are a powerful reminder of the impact the organization’s work has on patients, their families and friends. “It is what motivates us every day in our life-saving mission,” says Dr. Elke Neujahr, Global Chief Executive Officer at DKMS. “Every 27 seconds someone in the world is diagnosed with blood cancer. Every year thousands of families hear the heartbreaking news that their loved one will need a blood stem cell transplant to survive. 100,000 second chances at life are thus a strong signal of hope for all those facing the toughest moment of their lives.”

“In 1991 we founded DKMS in honor of my mother, who suffered from leukemia, and her legacy which inspires us until today: that every patient in need of a blood stem cell transplant finds a matching donor who can give them a second chance at life. In the past 31 years we have worked tirelessly to make this vision come true. We are proud to announce that this year we have reached an incredible milestone: DKMS donors have provided 100,000 second chances at life to patients all over the world. It is my big dream that every patient has that chance and that other families do not have to feel the devastating pain of losing a loved one,” says Katharina Harf, Chairwoman of the DKMS Foundation Board.

The work of registering donors and facilitating transplants is inherently a team effort and every life saved is due to the collaboration, dedication, and passion of every single individual involved along the way: Every donor who has given a patient a second chance, every one of the
11 million potential donors who are registered with DKMS and provide hope to patients in need, and the countless volunteers who are dedicated to creating a world without blood cancer. “We also honor all patients and their families and friends as well as all physicians and nurses, who take the best possible care of patients and who are such an essential part of this process. Only together we can make a big impact in the lives of patients across the globe,” says Dr. Elke Neujahr.

Ethnic diversity saves lives

100,000 second chances at life is also an impressive achievement that only becomes more impressive, when considering that it took DKMS 24 years to reach 50,000 second chances at life in 2015. Within just seven years the organization has now doubled that number. DKMS was only able to accomplish this so quickly because the organization expanded its footprint and is now active in seven countries on five continents. Every day, 21 DKMS donors from Germany, the USA, Poland, the UK, Chile, South Africa, and India, where DKMS operates together with BMST, donate blood stem cells for patients all over the world. Blood stem cell donations from DKMS donors haven given people in 57 countries a second chance at life.

One crucial factor in the success of a blood stem cell transplant is the degree of match between the tissue characteristics of donor and patient. Since tissue characteristics vary according to both genetics and region, the organization is doing everything possible to register as many donors of different ethnicities and nationalities as possible. Having a genetically diverse database of donors is necessary to ensure that all patients have the chance to find their match. “We thus continue to work on our expansion, as well as forming crucial partnerships across the world. We will not stop until every patient, regardless of where they live, is able to find the lifesaver they need,” says Dr. Elke Neujahr.

DKMS support programs for patients from low- and middle-income countries

To improve the situation of patients in low- and middle-income countries, DKMS has also expanded its efforts to increase the access to transplantation. “If we want to prevent families from suffering the loss of a loved one, we need to help, where help is needed! For the second chance at life, we cross borders, collaborate globally and leave no stone unturned to help patients. Every patient with blood cancer or a life-threatening blood disease deserves that chance. Thus, we have established several support programs to increase the access to transplantation for patients living in emerging countries,” highlights Dr. Elke Neujahr.

Register as a lifesaver today

Reaching 100,000 second chances at life is an incredible accomplishment. However, the organization’s work will not be done until every patient in need of a transplant gets that second chance. With that in mind DKMS wants to encourage the public to become part of its lifesaving movement by registering as a potential lifesaver today. “It is my vision for DKMS that we will have 20 million donors registered with us and that we will be active in 20 countries by 2030 to celebrate 200,000 second chance at life,” Neujahr says in conclusion.

Register here:

About DKMS

DKMS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of patients with blood cancer and blood disorders. Founded in Germany in 1991 by Dr. Peter Harf, DKMS and the organization’s over 1,000 employees have since relentlessly pursued the aim of giving as many patients as possible a second chance at life. With over 11 million registered donors, DKMS has succeeded in doing this 100,000 times to date by providing blood stem cell donations to those in need. This accomplishment has led to DKMS becoming the global leader in the facilitation of unrelated blood stem cell transplants. The organization has offices in Germany, the US, Poland, the UK, Chile and South Africa. In India, DKMS has founded the joint venture DKMS-BMST together with the Bangalore Medical Services Trust. International expansion and collaboration are key to helping patients worldwide because, like the organization itself, blood cancer knows no borders.

DKMS is also heavily involved in the fields of medicine and science, with its own research unit focused on continually improving the survival and recovery rate of patients. In its high-performance laboratory, the DKMS Life Science Lab, the organization sets worldwide standards in the typing of potential blood stem cell donors.