Swab to be a lifesaver

You’ve never met. But, for someone who’s facing blood cancer, you might just be the most important person in the world.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia. It’s a devastating diagnosis for anyone affected. But, there’s hope: a potentially lifesaving blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person.

Only one in three people will find a matching donor within their own family. And so they must find an unrelated donor to have a second chance of life. That’s why we’re here. We find potential lifesavers, like you, and match them to people in urgent need of a blood stem cell donation.

It’s especially hard for people who are black, Asian, or belong to another minority ethnicity to find a match because there are relatively few potential donors of these ethnicities on the UK donor registry.

We’re here to give everyone the best possible chance of overcoming blood cancer. But, whatever your ethnicity, we need your help. Will you go on standby to save the life of someone just like you? Complete our pre-registration check to find out if you could be a potential lifesaver and order your home swab kit today.

Register today. There are survivors because there are lifesavers.

Step 1 of 3

Check your eligibility

Your age, location and current health status are important. Check to see if you can become a blood stem cell donor.

Your age, location and health are important

See if you are eligible

As a registered donor, you will be on standby to save life.

Do you live in the UK?

Are you between 17 & 55 years old?

Do you have a chronic illness or belong to a risk group?

Not sure?

Let’s take a quick look


Do you suffer from any of the following diseases or you belong to one of the following risk groups?

Before you register, please check that you are able to donate by looking at the list below.

You won‘t be able to register if you have/ have had any of the following:

  • Heart diseases (e.g. previous heart attack, coronary heart disease)
  • Lung diseases ((i.e. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease)
  • Diseases of the haematopoietic system
  • Severe kidney diseases
  • Blood disorders (i.e. Thalassaemia Major, Protein C, Protein S or Antithrombin deficiency)
  • Thrombosis
  • Neurological disorders (i.e. Epilepsy, Parkinson‘s disorder)
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune conditions (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn‘s disease)
  • Infectious diseases, (e.g. HIV or AIDS, Hepatitis B and C)
  • Diabetes Type 1 and 2 (if your Diabetes Type 2 is controlled by diet and there are no other risk factors)
  • Weight under 7 stone 12 lbs/50 kg
  • Obesity (i.e. with a body mass index (BMI) > 40)

If you have or have had in the past, a chronic or serious condition, or take any medication regularly, please discuss this with a member of the DKMS UK team for initial guidance by calling us on T:020 8747 5620

Please enter your details

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You are an eligible donor!

Thank you! You can become a potential donor! That’s it. You’re now on the road to becoming a lifesaving blood stem cell donor.

Thank you for your support.

We can only register people who live in the UK.


You might be able to register with one of our sister organisations below:

or you can...

Help us raise funds

Thank you for your support.

Unfortunately you are not eligible to become a donor.


You can still help in other ways!

The two ways to donate

You must be willing to donate using either method. The patient's doctor chooses the method that is best for the patient.

Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation
This is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells via the bloodstream. During the procedure, your blood is drawn through one arm and passed through a machine that filters out the blood stem cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through your other arm.

To increase your blood stem cells prior to donation, you will receive daily injections of a synthetic protein called filgrastim on the four days leading up to and on the morning of the procedure. The actual donation can take from 4-8 hours over the course of 1-2 days.

Possible Side Effects & Recovery
While taking filgrastim, you may experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, bone and muscle aches and fatigue. Most side effects should subside within 48 hours of donating. Your stem cells replenish within one week.

Bone Marrow Donation
This is a 1-2 hour surgical procedure performed under anesthesia, so no pain is experienced during the donation. Marrow cells are collected from the back of your hip bone using a syringe.

Possible Side Effects & Recovery
You may experience some pain, bruising and stiffness for up to two weeks after donation. Within a week of donating, you should be able to return to work, school and many regular activities. Your marrow will completely replenish itself within 3-6 weeks.


How to become a blood stem cell donor

How to become a blood stem cell donor with DKMS

Watch this short video to see what it means to be a potential blood stem cell donor. A two-minute cheek swab will put you on standby to save a life.


We’ll send a swab kit straight to your home. When it arrives, please follow the instructions and swab the insides of your cheeks. Then simply seal your swabs in the envelope provided, pop it in the pre-paid return envelope and drop it in the post.

Once your swabs have been returned and your tissue type has been analysed, your details will be placed anonymously on the UK stem cell registry where they will be available for national and international donor searches for people in desperate need.


You can be a lifesaver on standby until you are 61. If you are identified as a potential match for someone, we will contact you to confirm your availability, talk you through the whole process and arrange further tests to check your suitability for the patient.

The process is completely anonymous. However, depending on the patient’s country of residence, and only if both parties agree, a donor and patient may be able to get in touch with each other after two years.


90% of stem cell donations are made via a peripheral blood stem cell collection. Here blood is taken from one of your arms and passed through a machine that isolates some of your blood stem cells. Your blood is then returned to you through your other arm. This method usually takes 4 – 6 hours.

In 10% of cases, stem cell donation is made via a bone marrow extraction. Here, marrow is extracted from the back of the hip bone (not the spine) under general anaesthetic. This method usually takes 1-2 hours.