The fate of one person laid the foundation for a worldwide community committed to fighting blood cancer
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 challenging 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 has kept that promise. By 1995 DKMS had already become 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.
Impact in the UK
Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer and some 2,000 people are looking for a potentially lifesaving blood stem cell donor each year.
Since we launched in the UK, in 2013, we have been receiving great support from the public and have registered more than 500,000 people as potential blood stem cell donors. Some of these amazing people have gone on to donate blood stem cells, giving more than 800 second chances of life to blood cancer patients.
In the end, it's all about one thing: saving as many lives as possible
As an international non-profit organization in the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders, DKMS focuses on raising awareness around these conditions, their treatment, and the registration of potential stem cell donors to save patients' lives.
Together against blood cancer
Communities, schools and companies play a vital role in the fight against blood cancer. They help us reach audiences which may be hard to reach through other channels.
One person really can make a difference, as Peter proved when he founded DKMS. The more people who join the fight against blood cancer, the greater difference we could make together. This is why we work with volunteers and organisations throughout the UK and internationally, and new supporters are always welcome.
We accomplish this through a variety of methods, including:
We are really happy to be working in partnership with the charity Love, Hope, Strength Foundation (LHSF). Registered as a charity in 2007, LHSF was co-founded by Mike Peters, a two-times cancer survivor and singer in the internationally acclaimed Welsh rock band The Alarm. We work with LHSF to provide donor registration opportunities at their concerts around the UK, as well as through links between our websites.
Coty has a long supporting relationship with us in Germany and the USA. We are very grateful to Coty for their support during our UK launch in 2013, providing both financial capital and PR assistance. We also held our first UK company donor recruitment event with Coty, registering 50% of their UK staff, who are now all on standby to save the life of someone with blood cancer.
We are delighted to have ACLT (formerly the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) as one of our partners. We work together to raise awareness of blood stem cell donation and regularly organise co-partnered donor recruitment events. The ACLT was established in June 1996 by Beverley De-Gale and Orin Lewis, parents of former leukaemia sufferer Daniel De-Gale.
Love Hope Strength Foundation promotes innovative, music related, outreach and awareness programmes for leukaemia and cancer sufferers, survivors and their families. Since its formation the LHSF foundation has taken many prominent musicians and celebrities to some of the highest places on earth taking the message of love, hope and strength to people who do not always have access to the same medical treatments, care and facilities as experienced by many of us here in the west.
Since their establishment 18 years ago, the ACLT have significantly increased the numbers of black and mixed raced potential donors on the UK Stem Cell Registry.
The charity raises awareness that motivates and enables potential donors to come forward and register at a range of events, which are held regularly across the UK and abroad, and to offer hope to people suffering from leukaemia and blood related cancers.