How it all began...

Our story

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.

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.

Our mission

A public DKMS donor recruitment event

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

Map of DKMS Entities

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:

Motivating the general public, universities, and companies to organize registration events and raise financial donations to cover the cost of registration.

Maintaining a sustainable relationship with our donors starting on the day of registration.

Establishing a close relationship with patients and transplant centers, physicians and nurses.

Supporting the further development of therapies against blood cancer through our own research and state-of-the-art laboratory.

Increasing access to transplantation for patients around the world through collaborations with other countries.

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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.

Working with us in achieving this goal are our registration partners – a select group of charities that share the same aims. Each one goes out in to their communities and networks to share the same message and recruit more donors for DKMS. Through these important partnerships, donors have been found and patients have received their life changing transplants.

At DKMS, we are proud and privileged to work with other blood cancer charities and organisations that also aid a patient during their treatment and journey. Through such collaborations, we believe that those patients and families affected by a blood cancer diagnosis, are able to find support for their individual needs. Whilst DKMS recruits and searches for a matched stem cell donor for every patient in need of a stem cell transplant, our charity partners can offer advice and share their experience and knowledge on other related topics and areas of concern.

Other ways to help

There are many ways you can support our work

Helps us to register more lifesavers.

Inspire your friends to register through your social networks.

Help us to recruit more lifesavers by fundraising for us.