Frequently Asked Questions
Discover more about DKMS and the work we do to recruit donors and fight blood cancer and blood disorders.
Blood stem cells: who can become a donor?
Who can register as a potential blood stem cell donor?

If you are aged between 17 and 55 years and in general good health, then you may be able to register as a blood stem cell donor. If you register when you are 17, you will not be able to donate blood stem cells yet, but on your 18th birthday, you will automatically be activated in our database and included in the global donor searches.

If you have previously registered with DKMS or another donor centre, there is no need to do so again, as you will already be available for searches worldwide. If you have been diagnosed with any chronic or serious illnesses (whether current or in the past), please check with us before signing up.

Key conditions that do not prevent you from becoming a blood stem cell donor:

Enlarged or underactive thyroid, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (You must be stable and symptom-free, even if you are taking thyroid hormones or iodine. However, you cannot donate if you have Graves’ disease)

An enlarged thyroid gland is often caused by a lack of iodine (iodine deficiency goitre), but it can also be attributed to a lack of thyroid hormones – because a thyroid gland forms increasing amounts of tissue as it attempts to compensate for insufficient hormone production. If you do not have any symptoms and your thyroid medication is properly balanced, there is no reason you cannot become a blood stem cell donor.

If the hypothyroidism is caused by thyroid surgery, there is also nothing to prevent you from joining our register — unless the intervention was for Graves’ disease or a thyroid carcinoma.

If the hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), you may only be able to donate blood stem cells via a bone marrow collection from the pelvic bone. This point will be clarified if you are identified as a possible match for a patient.

If the hypothyroidism is caused by something other than a pre-existing thyroid condition, you can still sign up as a donor.

Morbus Hashimoto is one of the few autoimmune diseases that are not a major problem in blood stem cell donors. However, the thyroid gland must be properly regulated with medication. In addition, some people with the disorder may at times only be able to donate through a bone marrow collection from the pelvic bone. This point will be clarified as soon as you are identified as a possible match for a patient.

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland that causes excessive thyroid production (hyperthyroidism). This can be problematic for both donor and recipient.

High blood pressure (stable and well-regulated)

As a rule, high blood pressure is not an issue when it comes to donating stem cells — but it must be well regulated by diet or medication, and not have damaged the eyes, heart, or blood vessels. If your blood pressure is well-regulated, you can register as a blood stem cell donor.

Hay fever, slight asthma (without attacks), food allergies

Allergies (including food and medication allergies, and hay fever) are not a problem for potential donors — unless they have previously experienced severe allergic reactions (e.g. allergic shock, Quincke’s edema). Please advise us if you have had severe reactions, as it could affect your suitability as a donor.

Unipolar depression (no impact on managing day-to-day life)
As with many other conditions, what matters is the severity of the depression or anxiety. The first thing to do is to find out whether the condition restricts you in any way, and check your general resilience — because donating blood stem cells is an additional mental strain for donors.

The question here is not so much whether a donor will reliably show up at the stem cell donation centre but whether they can handle the situation afterwards. After all, donating stem cells effectively means you gain a severely ill ‘blood relative’, and many of our donors are very concerned about the wellbeing of their recipient.

The use of psychotropic drugs also poses a particular problem, as they affect the blood count. Neuroleptics especially will prevent you from becoming a potential blood stem cell donor. Other conditions precluding registration as a stem cell donor include mental illnesses requiring treatment, such as severe depression, borderline syndrome, and any form of psychosis, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar/manic affective disorder.

Slight depression that requires only limited treatment is not an issue, as long as the donor feels fit enough to cope with everyday life. Anyone medicating with less problematic ingredients, such as Citalopram or Fluoxetine, can also still sign up as a blood stem cell donor.

Iron-deficiency anaemia (treatable with iron supplement)

For iron-deficiency anaemia, the determining factor is the haemoglobin level. If the level is frequently below 11.5 mg/dl for women and 13.5 mg/dl for men, this does cause problems for donors and registration is not permitted. However, if the iron supplement is well-tolerated and the iron level, as well as the haemoglobin level, are in a normal range , you would still be eligible to register as a potential blood stem cell donor.

Basal cell carcinoma and cervical carcinoma in situ

Basal cell carcinoma and cervical carcinoma in situ do not affect your eligibility as a blood stem cell donor, if they have been removed completely and the control check-ups since have been without pathological findings.

The reason for this is that in the cases of basal cell carcinoma and cervical carcinoma, it is not expected that the cancerous cells will spread (metastasizing).

Who is not able to register as a blood stem cell donor?

Obesity, body mass index (BMI) > 40 (BMI=weight/height²)

To register with us or to donate blood stem cells, your body mass index (BMI) must not be over 40 – for various reasons.

For people in general good health, donating blood stem cells does not have any significant risks. However, for people with additional risk factors, there may be some health concerns. Unfortunately, obesity is one such risk factor.

Severe obesity poses a problem because it leads to a degree of risk for the donor with both types of blood stem cell collection procedures. Not only is the anaesthetic risk higher with bone marrow donations, but with peripheral blood stem cell collection, it is also difficult to gauge precisely how much medication is needed, which may increase the chances of side effects.

The health and safety of our donors is our number one priority and the weight limits are in place purely for the protection of our donors.

Severe illnesses of the central nervous system or mental illness

The eligibility of a potential blood stem cell donor depends on the severity of the depression/anxiety. First of all, the question is whether or not the potential donor is limited due to their illness and how resilient they are in their everyday life. The donation process might be an additional mental burden, which has to be managed on top of everything else.

It is not only the question of whether the donor will be able to reliably come to the donation appointment, but also how they can handle the situation after the donation. Even though they may be strangers, donors and recipients share a unique connection and many donors really worry about the recipient of their donation.

There are also concerns related to many psychotropic drugs causing changes in the blood count. Neuroleptics are especially problematic, making it impossible to donate blood stem cells. If suffering from severe psychological illnesses, it is unfortunately not possible to register as a donor. Those illnesses include severe depression requiring treatment, borderline syndrome, any form of psychosis, schizo-effective disorders, and bipolar/manic affective illnesses.

It is possible to register as a donor if suffering from a “mild” depression, receiving treatment for a limited amount of time, and feeling well enough to manage everyday life. This applies to donors whose medication contains less problematic substances, such as Citalopram or Fluoxetine.

Systemic autoimmune diseases or other serious chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, rheumatism)

If you have diabetes mellitus type 1, registering as a potential donor is unfortunately not possible due to health concerns for both you and the potential recipient.

Blood stem cells are a part of the immune system, which means that a donation from a type 1 diabetic could mean that the condition is passed on to the recipient. As the patient’s health is already compromised, it is difficult to predict how their condition might develop. Serious complications would be likely to occur.

In addition, increased blood sugar levels may already have damaged the donor’s nerves and blood vessels to varying degrees, and donating blood stem cells could compromise their health even further.

With diabetes mellitus type II, or type 2 diabetes, some cells become resistant to insulin. This prevents them from absorbing sufficient glucose from the bloodstream. Increased blood sugar levels may already have damaged nerves and blood vessels to varying degrees. Donating blood stem cells could compromise their health even further – so again, we cannot include anyone with type 2 diabetes as a potential blood stem cell donor.

Rheumatoid conditions, even when there are no symptoms, are another factor preventing people from registering. They include rheumatoid arthritis, Bekhterev’s disease, and juvenile arthritis, all of which are autoimmune diseases and therefore mean that unfortunately you cannot register as a blood stem cell donor.

A stem cell transplant involves the transfer of cells from the immune system, and if the donor’s immune system is damaged, it will have adverse effects on the recipient, compromising their health.

Rheumatism

It is not possible for someone to register as a blood stem cell donor if they are suffering from a rheumatic disease, even if they are not currently experiencing any symptoms. Rheumatic diseases include rheumatic arthritis, Bekhterev´s disease, and Juvenile Arthritis. The reason for excluding people suffering from those conditions is that they are autoimmune diseases.

During the stem cell transplantation, cells of the immune system are transmitted into the recipient, leading to a risk of a possible negative reaction in the body of the recipient. Because the recipient is already physically burdened due to their disease, the chemotherapy in preparation for the transplantation, and the transplantation itself, a negative autoimmune reaction could potentially be fatal. This is why it is not possible to donate blood stem cells and therefore to register as a blood stem cell donor if suffering from autoimmune diseases.

Cancer (including former patients who have been given the all-clear)

Unfortunately, anyone who has previously had a malignant condition is not able to donate blood stem cells.

If you have ever had a malignant growth (or, to be more precise, one that is not specifically benign) you cannot donate blood or stem cells — no matter how long ago the illness was or how successful the therapy was.

Addictions (alcohol, drugs, medications)

Occasional marijuana/cannabis consumption is not an issue – although the emphasis here is on the word ‘occasional’.

This is in part because regular drug use raises the question of reliability. It is not that a donor who takes drugs would be any more likely to suffer any complications, but unreliability is extremely problematic. The timing and scheduling of blood stem cell donations and transplants is crucial to the survival chances of the patient.

For you to register, we need to know what drugs you take and for how long you have been taking them. If you have been consuming them for a long time, it might be better not to register, but if you are ready and able to quit, then you are welcome to join us as a potential blood stem cell donor.

Severe cardiovascular diseases

High blood pressure that is successfully regulated or a mitral valve prolapse with no further symptoms do not affect your ability to become a blood stem cell donor. The same goes for people with an unusually high or low resting pulse rate: as long as it is regular, that is all that matters.

However, with most other cardiovascular conditions, requiring treatment or monitoring, the risk of complications when donating blood stem cells is significantly higher. This means that anyone suffering from conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia, damaged vascular walls, arteriosclerosis (especially if blood thinners are needed), heart attacks, strokes, or structural damage to the heart (such as valve defects) is not able to register as a potential blood stem cell donor.

Another factor that would definitely prevent you from donating blood stem cells is frequent or prolonged breathlessness.

If you are being treated for any other conditions, please contact us to check if you can still become a blood stem cell donor.

Severe lung diseases

For someone with a chronic lung disease, including diseases in the early stages, there is a risk of further damage to their lung during a blood stem cell donation. Autoimmune diseases also carry the risk of transmitting the condition onto the recipient. Many lung diseases also increase the risk associated with general anaesthetic. Those suffering from a frequent or consistent dyspnoea are not eligible to register as a potential blood stem cell donor.

Severe kidney diseases

For people with chronic kidney diseases, including diseases in the early stages, there is a risk of further damage to their kidneys during a blood stem cell donation. Autoimmune diseases also carry the risk of transmitting the condition to the recipient.

Severe metabolic diseases

Those with severe metabolic diseases, including diseases in the early stages, might see their condition worsen or lapse during a blood stem cell donation. Especially problematic are metabolic diseases that have already caused consequential damages, e.g. damages to the vessels.

Severe tropical infectious diseases

Every pre-existing infectious disease can be transmitted on to the recipient during a blood stem cell donation. This is also the case if the donor does not have any symptoms because their immune system has been able to control the disease. However, the patient does not have a working immune system at the time of the transplantation so they are not protected from infectious diseases.

Factor V Leiden

If you have a heterozygous Factor V Leiden mutation (APC resistance), you can join our register – as long as it can be confirmed that you do not have any further clotting disorders or an increased risk of thrombosis linked to smoking, the contraceptive pill, being overweight etc. and you have not previously suffered from thrombosis.

If the mutation is homozygous, unfortunately, we cannot allow you to register as a donor.

Infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, syphilis

If you have a serious, life-threatening infection such as HIV and if there is no way of proving that you are fully cured (e.g. hepatitis C), we cannot allow you to donate blood stem cells, primarily for the protection of the recipient.

Disorders of the blood or immune system

Disorders of the blood and immune system are problematic because blood stem cells for transplantation come from the blood-forming and immune systems. To minimize the risk to recipients, both of these systems should be working as normally as possible. When blood stem cells are transplanted, acquired disorders can potentially be transplanted with them, as the cells for transplant contain mature cells of the immune system. In addition, some blood disorders can pose an increased risk to the donor: problems with clotting factors, for example, can cause thrombosis or bleeding.

Where do I have to be a resident to register with DKMS UK?

You must permanently live in the UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man to register with DKMS UK.

You can register as a potential blood stem cell donor in other countries. In addition to the UK, DKMS also registers potential blood stem cell donors in the US, Germany, Poland, Chile, India and South Africa.

If you live outside of these countries, find out if there is a registry in your country on the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) website.

How old do I need to be to register as a blood stem cell donor?

Anyone between the ages of 17-55 and in general good health can register to become a blood stem cell donor. If you are 17, you can complete the registration process, but will only be added to the registry after your 18th birthday.

The upper age limit is in place to protect the safety of the donor and to provide the best possible treatment for patients. Younger people are more likely to be chosen as donors and are less likely to have health issues that could cause complications with donating. With age there is also an increase in risk from anaesthesia.

Does a donor have to have the same blood group as the patient?

For blood stem cell transplants, what matters is the best possible match between the tissue characteristics from the donor and patient.

Blood groups are not so important.

A perfect match is very complicated to find and much like looking for a needle in a haystack. When blood stem cells are transplanted, the recipient acquires the same blood group as the donor.

At most, your blood group would be an additional factor in your selection.

I've received a blood transfusion, can I still register?

Receiving a blood transfusion may not stop you from registering as a potential blood stem cell donor.

If you received a transfusion following a one-off loss of blood during pregnancy/childbirth or after trauma you are fine to register.

If you received a transfusion because of a different medical condition, please email us with details about the condition.

Regardless of the reason for the transfusion, if it took place outside of Europe, Australia or North America, just let us know by email donor@dkms.org.uk.

I take regular medication, can I still donate?

This very much depends on your medication. If you’re thinking about registering and you’re unsure about whether you can donate while taking your medication, please contact our medical team on info@dkms.org.uk.

If you’re already on the registry and you’re identified as a potential match, we will conduct a health screening to determine what medication you are on and whether you can still donate while on this medication.

We will never ask you to stop taking your medication to donate.

What if I am pregnant or become pregnant?

You can register as a potential blood stem cell donor even if you are pregnant, as long as you meet all of the other requirements. Please let us know if you are pregnant and when your due date is.

You will be blocked from donor searches during your pregnancy, until six months after your due date. After that, we will include you in searches again unless you instruct us otherwise.

Can I register while breastfeeding?

You can register as a potential blood stem cell donor while breastfeeding, however you will need to be deactivated on the register until you have stopped. It is best to wait until after you have stopped breastfeeding before registering as a potential blood stem cell donor.

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth and are not breastfeeding, then you need to wait until six months after your baby is born before you can register.

Can I donate blood stem cells from umbilical cord blood?

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant and would like to donate cord blood, you can do so through the NHS Cord Blood Bank.

DKMS UK is not set up to collect stem cells from cord blood.

Can I register to donate if I'm gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Yes, your sexuality does not affect your blood stem cell donor eligibility.

If I register with DKMS, will I automatically be tested for HIV?

No. When you register, we analyse your tissue characteristics so they can be matched with patients in need of a stem cell transplant. We do not check for any infections other than cytomegalovirus (CMV).

If you are identified as a match for a patient, we will carry out a health assessment with you that checks for specific viruses and infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. This is to ensure that any such viruses or infectious diseases are not passed onto the transplant patient in need of your blood stem cell donation.

Why does DKMS want people from different ethnicities to sign up?

Tissue characteristics vary from person to person and between ethnicities. When it comes to finding a matching donor, a person’s ethnic background is important. A donor with the same ethnic background as a patient may be a better match than one who comes from an entirely different ethnic background.

We need as many people as possible with the widest possible variety of genetic characteristics to register on our database.

If you register with DKMS as a potential blood stem cell donor, we ask you about your ethnic background. This information allows us to better organise our database, making it easier and faster for doctors to search for a matching donor for their patient.

I'm already registered with another donor centre. Should I register with DKMS as well?

If you are already registered with:

  • British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR),
  • Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (WBMDR), or
  • Anthony Nolan

you are already registered on the UK National Registry. Your donor details are available for global donor searches. You will not need to register again with DKMS.

Blood stem cells: register as a donor
How do I know that my data is secure?

DKMS treats the collection, processing and storage of the personal data and information of all its registered blood stem cell donors, supporters and stakeholders with the utmost care, consideration, seriousness and responsibility. We are committed to full compliance with all relevant data protection legislation and guidance, including the UK General Data Protection Regulation.

We work to clear and robust data and information standards and security protocols to ensure that your data is accurate, safe and secure. We process only the data and information we need, store it securely, ensure it is accessed or handled only by those staff or third parties that need to see and retain and dispose of it in line with agreed data retention schedules, based upon need for the data or national and international regulation. We pseudonymise any data that is used in the search and matching process for blood stem cell donation, including HLA tissue characteristics, age, biological sex, etc. This means that doctors and transplant centres searching the database for a matching donor are only able to see this information.

Where we work with third parties for the purposes of fulfilment, regulation or the search and match process for national and international stem cell donations, then we work with only trusted partners and under legally binding and regulatory compliant data sharing agreements. We will never sell your data to third parties.

For more information on how we look after your personal data, please see our Data Protection Policy and our Privacy Notice.

When will I receive my swab pack?

You should receive your swab pack in the post within four to six working days of registering.

If you haven’t received your pack within 10 days, please email info@dkms.org.uk and we will send you another one. Please include your full address with your request.

When will I hear from DKMS about my registration?

You’ll receive an email from us shortly after requesting a swab pack. Be sure to check your junk folder, as sometimes they end up there! You should then receive your swab pack in the post within 4-6 working days of registering. Once you’ve returned your swabs, we will email you to let you know that your swabs have arrived. We will then email you 6-8 weeks later once your swabs have been processed and you have been added to the DKMS register.

You may receive updates from time to time about the work we are doing and, if you are identified as a potential match for someone in need, our team will be in touch using the contact details you provided at registration. It’s really important that you keep your details up to date for this reason. If they should change at all, please update your details here.

When will I receive my DKMS donor card and what do I need it for?

When you join the DKMS register as a potential blood stem cell donor, your swabs will be sent to our laboratory for testing. This process can take six to eight weeks from when you send your swabs back.

Once your swabs have been processed, your details will be added to the DKMS register and you will receive your digital donor card.

On your digital donor card, you will find your personal donor number. Please keep your donor number handy so that if you ever need to contact us, you can quote your donor number and we can quickly access your details.

I have a latex allergy, can I still use the swabs as part of the registration process?

The mouth/cheek swabs that we send you when you register do not intentionally use or have any latex component added during the manufacturing process.

However, there is a possibility that the sterile packed swabs contain residual latex or a latex component. If you have a latex allergy, we recommend that you consult your GP or medical consultant before taking a mouth swab.

How can I update my details?

If your details change there is no need to register again, simply update your details here.

It’s important to keep your details up to date so we can quickly reach out to you if you are matched with a patient. Please help us by ensuring you use a personal email address and phone number (not work, school or university). If you are a student using a non-personal email address such as a college or university one, it is really important to update your address when you move or finish college or university in order for you to continue being a registered donor.

Please get in touch with us on info@dkms.org.uk if you have any questions about the details that we currently have on record for you.

How can I obtain my HLA tissue type or profile?

Contact our Data Management team, donor@dkms.org.uk, who will be able to arrange this for you.

Blood stem cells: waiting to be matched
How does the search for a blood stem cell donor work?

Looking for a matching stem cell donor is like looking for a needle in a haystack. When a blood cancer or blood disorder patient depends on a blood stem cell transplant to survive, they need a donor whose tissue characteristics are a 100 percent match, if possible. Search requests are sent to the National Registry, and if a potential donor is found on the DKMS database, to match the patient, we will be informed and we will then contact the donor immediately.

Four in ten patients in the UK and four in ten patients worldwide, still do not find a matching donor. That is why we need as many people as possible to register as a blood stem cell donor.

Another problem is that even if a matching donor is found, they simply might not be available to donate at the specific point in time.

How many years will I be on the donor registry for?

Donors can register between the ages of 17 to 55. You will remain on the registry until you are 61.

Please let us know if your name, address, contact details or registered GP change during this time.

How likely is it that I will be called up to donate?

We know that for DKMS registered donors in the UK, there is a 1 in 800 chance that you will be matched with a transplant patient and donate your stem cells.

Finding a matching donor for a patient is rare, and the chances for a match will vary from individual to individual, depending upon factors such as:

  • age
  • biological sex
  • CMV status, and
  • phenotype.

Matches are determined by HLA typing (tissue typing) and there are thousands of characteristics in millions of combinations, so it’s a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why we need to register as many potential blood stem cell donors as possible.

What is confirmatory typing? How am I identified as a match?

Confirmatory typing (CT) is the health and medical assessment process that is carried out when you are selected as a potential match for a blood stem cell patient.

The process confirms that your registered HLA tissue typing taken at the time you first registered as a donor is actually correct, as this is fundamentally important for a successful match.

Before any donation takes place, you will be asked:

  • to fill out a detailed health questionnaire so we can make sure early on that you are still suitable as a donor
  • for a blood sample, which can be taken by your regular GP or at a local hospital. Your sample will then be sent to one of our labs so your tissue (HLA) characteristics can be analysed and checked for other infections such as HIV or hepatitis viruses.

The results of your blood tests will be shared with the patient’s medical team and used to decide whether you are the best possible match for the patient.

Next steps: identifying you as a match

It’s difficult to have an exact timescale, so we allocate three months from the date of your blood draw appointment to allow the patient’s medical team enough time to have all matched donors tested and for the patient to begin their treatment ready for the transplant.

If you have been identified as a match and you have any questions, you can call our medical team on 020 8747 5660 with your donor ID ready so we can give you more information.

If you are selected to donate, we will aim to give you as much notice as possible. If there are any important dates when you know you cannot donate, please let us know as we will always try to accommodate your schedule.

How will I be told if I'm a potential match?

As soon as you are identified as a potential match, we will contact you via phone, text, email and send you an information and health assessment pack in the post.

Time is of the essence at this stage, so it’s really important that we have the right contact details for you.

If any of your contact details change, please let us know using our Update Details form.

Blood stem cells: making a donation
How are blood stem cells collected?

Blood stem cells are collected by two possible methods:

In about 90% of donations, stem cells are taken from the bloodstream via PBSC collection. No surgery is necessary; you can usually leave the clinic on the same day.

Bone marrow donation, used in 10% of donations, takes place under general anaesthesia using a puncture needle in the iliac crest of the pelvis. The stay in hospital can last up to three days in total.

Which method is used is decided by receiving patient's medical team, depending on the patient's state of health. We try to take your wishes as the donor into account. However, in principle, you should be prepared to use both methods.

Find out more
Am I missing stem cells after the donation?

The body reproduces the blood stem cells within about two weeks. A stem cell donation is comparable to a blood donation, and does not lead to a permanent loss of stem cells.

Four weeks after donation, your blood levels are checked. This to make sure that the relevant blood values have returned to normal.

Who will cover the cost if I donate blood stem cells for a patient?

DKMS will organise your travel to and from the hospital collection centre and cover the costs associated with your appointments. We can also reimburse your loss of earnings, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more

Covering your costs as a donor

Will I be able to bring someone along to the collection centre on the day of my donation?

DKMS will cover the journey and food costs of a companion traveling with you from your home to the centre, they just can't go onto the ward with you, as, following COVID-19 regulations, hospitals are limiting the number of visitors to their sites.

This is for your own safety as well as the protection of staff and other donors. We recommend you bring your phone and charger so friends and family can keep you company virtually.

Can I donate blood stem cells more than once? Will I be asked to donate again?

Some people donate blood stem cells more than once, either to the same patient or to a different one. If you have blood stem cells removed, your body will regenerate them in a couple of weeks. So it is possible to donate more than once.

To minimise the strain on donors as much as possible, we limit the number of times a donor can donate to twice for either peripheral blood stem cell collections or bone marrow collections.

Can I donate blood in the run up to a blood stem cell donation?

If you are identified as a potential blood stem cell match for someone, we ask that you do not donate blood from the time of confirmatory typing until six months after a peripheral blood stem cell donation and 12 months after a bone marrow donation. Your confirmatory typing will take place after you are identified as a potential donor.

Will I have a sick certificate to cover my time off for the donation?

This will vary from donor to donor. DKMS supports donors with the financial aspects and facilitates the logistics of giving a donation.

Find out more


How far will I need to travel to donate?

We currently have specialist donation centres in London and one in Sheffield.

We appreciate that some donors may have to travel quite a distance to reach these centres, which is why we are working on setting up more centres across the UK.

Find out more

As a donor, how am I insured?

DKMS has insurance policies in place that cover its donors and members of the general public. Our insurance policies for donors cover medical accidents as a result of the stem cell donation process, including trips to and from the collection clinic.

Can I withdraw from making a donation if I have already agreed to make one?

It is important that you discuss any concerns you may have about your donation with your DKMS coordinator as early on as possible. When you are identified as a match for a patient, you may withdraw from making a donation at short notice for personal or other reasons. We respect your decision, regardless.

However, if you withdraw shortly before the actual transplant, the doctors will have already started the patient’s preparation phase for the blood stem cell transplant, which leaves the patient in a vulnerable state.

Who is my patient? Can I meet them?

The blood stem cell donation and transplant is intended to be confidential and anonymous, as far as identification is concerned between the donor and the patient. This is set out legislation and standards. However, if the patient’s country of residence allows it, we can request an update on their state of health

National guidelines stipulate that donors and patients may only meet in person two years after the donation. In the meantime, donors can contact patients anonymously, sending letters via DKMS if this is permitted by the patient’s country of residence. Some countries outside of the UK do not allow any contact at all.

Find out more

Blood stem cells: COVID-19
Can I register to donate if a) I’ve had COVID-19? b) I develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 or c) I’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace?

Yes, you can register as a donor. However, you must first ensure you complete your self-isolation period and are symptom-free before you use the stem cell swabs.

Please consult the NHS website for the latest advice on the length of the self-isolation period you need to observe.

Will I be tested for COVID-19 before my donation?

Yes, before you donate we will arrange for you to have a PCR test for COVID-19. The tests will take place at different intervals as follows:

  • on the day of your medical assessment.
  • approximately 72 hours before you are admitted to the hospital for your donation.
  • on the day of your donation.

In some cases, you may also be required to have an additional COVID-19 test as well as the tests mentioned above, between your medical assessment and the donation. If this is the case, your DKMS coordinator will be in touch.

Can I register to donate if I’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, you can register. If you are identified as a match for a patient, we will discuss your vaccination status with you before you donate.

Can I have a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m about to donate?

Donors are required to wait between 2-4 weeks from the date of their vaccine before donating so it’s important that we know your vaccination status before you donate. The length of time that you have to wait depends on the type of vaccine you’ve received. This is in line with UK medical guidelines for stem cell donors.

If you have been selected as a donor, your DKMS coordinator will be in touch to discuss your vaccination status with you before your donation goes ahead. If there is a change to your vaccination status or your appointment dates for your vaccination change, please contact your DKMS coordinator to let them know.

What should I do in the run up to my donation to avoid catching COVID-19?

In the run up to your donation we ask that you take extra precautions to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 or coming into contact with someone with coronavirus. This is both for your own health and to minimise disruption to your planned donation.

Although most restrictions on social distancing in the UK came to an end in July, due to the nature of your donation, you will need to continue to adhere to comprehensive social distancing for 10 days prior to your donation. This will also apply for the period when you receive your G-CSF injections (if you are donating by the peripheral blood stem cell method).

Comprehensive social distancing in the run up to your donation includes:

  • HANDS - wash your hands regularly.
  • FACE - wear a face covering at all times when mandatory, and indoors where social distancing may be difficult, and/or you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people not in your household or bubble wherever possible.
  • Avoid socialising outside your home (e.g. in bars or restaurants) with people from outside your household or bubble. You can still see people indoors within your household or bubble. You can still visit the shops for essential purposes, but, where possible, limit your visits.
  • Limit your use of public transport to essential travel only (an example of which is travelling to your medical assessment and donation). When travelling, always wear a face covering and aim to keep a distance of 2 metres from others.
  • Work from home if possible. If you cannot work from home, your workplace must be COVID secure, meaning your employer has taken measures to ensure staff members are at least 2 metres apart.

Government guidance can and does change, so please try to keep up to date with any announcements and we will try to notify you of any relevant updates as soon as possible.

What is DKMS doing to keep donors safe during the pandemic?

Every precaution will be taken at our collection centres to minimise the risk of exposure and to keep the area COVID-free, which includes staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. You will also be asked to wear a face covering throughout your donation. The health and safety of our donors is our highest priority.

We follow advice from Public Health England and NICE and review our policies and processes regularly.

Our guidance is in line with that of the other partners in the UK-aligned registry and we follow global guidelines from the World Marrow Donor Association.

What should I do if I experience COVID-19 symptoms or test positive before my donation?

Please get in touch with your DKMS coordinator as soon as possible. Please also make sure you follow government guidelines around self-isolating and arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible. You can read the latest guidance on the NHS website.

If you have a confirmed COVID-19 infection, a blood stem cell donation will not possible until 28 days after the infection has passed.

What should I do if I’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

If anyone in your household or place of work starts to show COVID-19 symptoms, or you are told that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, please get in touch with your DKMS coordinator as soon as possible. Please also make sure you follow the latest government guidelines around self-isolating.

I risk possible infection day in, day out because of my job. Can I still move forward with the donation process?

You can still move forward with the donation process even if you run a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 due to your job e.g. you work in healthcare or hospitality. However, it is important that you inform your DKMS coordinator as soon as possible if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough and/or a loss of smell or taste. Please also inform your coordinator if you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have or is suspected of having COVID-19.

Fundraising for DKMS
I want to raise money for DKMS, do you have any ideas?

Whether you love getting active, performing music, whipping up a storm in the kitchen or getting bendy at yoga, our Fundraising Team can help you turn your passion into a great fundraiser. For ideas and advice for holding your own event, visit our Do your own thing webpage. If you'd like to take on a physical challenge, take a look at our fundraising events page.

You can set up your DKMS fundraising page using a website called Enthuse. All money raised through Enthuse comes straight to DKMS, so you don’t need to worry about collecting or paying in anything. Enthuse charge a small processing fee (1.9% + 20p per transaction) to ensure your payment is safely processed.

If you have any further questions or would like any help with your fundraising, please contact us at fundraising@dkms.org.uk.

How can I pay in the money I have raised for DKMS? 
Paying in money

You can either send us a cheque in the post or make a bank transfer.

Cheques: Please make your cheque payable to ‘DKMS Foundation’ and send it to us at the address below with a note about how the money was raised:

Fundraising Team, DKMS

Ashburnham House

Horticultural Place

Castle Row

Chiswick

W4 4JQ

Bank Transfer: Bank transfers can be made directly into our account using the below details. Please use your surname as a reference if possible.

The account details are:

DKMS Foundation, Barclays Bank PLC

Sort code: 20-35-93

Account number: 73395413

If you would like to use a different method of payment, please email fundraising@dkms.org.uk or telephone 020 8747 5656.

Receiving a receipt

We always make every effort to acknowledge and thank everyone who donates to DKMS. Your donation method will determine how you are thanked: either by email or letter. If making a payment online you should have received a confirmation email immediately after making our donation.

If you have not received a receipt or acknowledgment, or you are at all concerned about your donation please get in touch with us by emailing fundraising@dkms.org.uk.

How can I support DKMS with a regular donation/direct debit?

You can make a regular donation either monthly, quarterly or annually by setting up a direct debit online.

To make changes to your direct debit, please email fundraising@dkms.org.uk.

How can I make a donation in the memory of someone?

Thank you for thinking of DKMS at this very difficult time and choosing to remember someone special in such a meaningful way. Find out more information about giving in memory.

If you have any questions, please contact Georgina Brookes telephone 020 8747 5656 or email fundraising@dkms.org.uk.

I have a collection from a funeral.  How can I send it to you?

It’s best to put the money into your own bank account and then make a donation either by sending in a cheque or making a bank transfer.

Cheques: Please make your cheque payable to ‘DKMS Foundation’ and send it to us at the address below with a note about how the money was raised:

Fundraising Team, DKMS

Ashburnham House

Horticultural Place

Castle Row

Chiswick

W4 4JQ

Bank Transfer: Bank transfers can be made directly into our account using the below details. Please use your surname as a reference if possible.

The account details are:

DKMS Foundation, Barclays Bank PLC

Sort code: 20-35-93

Account number: 73395413

If you would like to use a different method of payment, please email fundraising@dkms.org.uk or phone 020 8747 5656.

How can I get materials to support my fundraising event?

Contact our Fundraising Team via our online form to let us know what you’re up to and we’ll be in touch about fundraising materials.

I am celebrating a special event - wedding, birthday, anniversary - and want to raise funds for DKMS.  How can I do this?

Congratulations and thank you for thinking of DKMS on such a special occasion! Find out more about supporting us at your special event and supporting DKMS at your wedding.

How can trusts give to DKMS?

Please contact Caroline Richardson, fundraising@dkms.org.uk for more information.

How can my company support DKMS?

There are many ways companies can support DKMS and raise vital funds to help save lives:

  • Charity of the Year partnerships
  • match funding employee donations
  • payroll giving
  • cause-related marketing, and
  • making donations in lieu of client Christmas gifts and cards

are just some of the ways that companies can get involved.

DKMS also works with companies to create mutually beneficial purpose-driven partnerships, as well as offering them the opportunity to become members of the exclusive DKMS £2K Club.

For further information email corporates@dkms.org.uk.

Volunteering with DKMS
Will I need references?

We will ask you to provide details of two referees.

Referees can be friends, colleagues or neighbours, but not a family member. They must be at least 18 years old and should have known you for at least six months.

Each referee should be willing to provide us with a reference and know that we will be contacting them.

Will my expenses be reimbursed?

We will pay for all of your reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, including travel and lunch, however, we cannot pay childcare expenses.

If you would like to find out more about expense, please contact the Volunteer Manager at volunteering@dkms.org.uk.

Will you provide me with a reference?

Once you’ve been volunteering with us for six months, we’d be happy to provide you with a character reference.

Get involved, support our mission

Join the register, raise awareness, do a fundraising challenge - you choose!