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, you may be able to register as a blood stem cell donor.

For details of our basic requirements and more detailed information on the key conditions that:

  • do not prevent you from becoming a blood stem cell donor
  • will prevent you from becoming a blood stem cell donor
Find out more

Eligibility to register as a blood stem cell donor.

I am registered as a potential donor but I have moved abroad from the UK. Can I still donate?

DKMS UK can only retain donors who are full-time residents within the United Kingdom. If you have moved abroad or have plans to leave the UK on a permanent basis, you can email our donor support team via who will be happy to advise on next steps.

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

Tissue characteristics vary from person to person and between ethnicities. When 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.

This means 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 organise our database more efficiently, making it easier and faster for doctors to search for a matching donor for their patient.

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.

Find out more: Eligibility to register as a blood stem cell donor.

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

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

Blood stem cells: register as a donor

When will I hear from DKMS about my swab pack, registration and donor card?

  • Registration request: 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!
  • 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 and we will send you another one. Please include your full address with your request. Once you’ve returned your swabs, we will email you to let you know that your swabs have arrived.
  • Donor card and personal donor number: It takes approximately six to eight weeks to process your swabs and add you to the DKMS register. When you have been added, we will email you with 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.
  • Updating your details: Please update your contact details. If your details - name, address, contact details or registered GP - change during this time it's very important to let us know. 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.
  • Keeping in touch: You may receive updates from time to time about the work we are doing.

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 if you have any questions about the details that we currently have on record for you.

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.

How can I obtain my HLA tissue type or profile?

Contact our Data Management Team,, who will be able to arrange this for you.

Blood stem cells: your health and registration

Can I donate blood in the run up to and after 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. Your confirmatory typing will take place after you are identified as a potential donor.

Following your donation, we ask you not to donate blood until six months after a peripheral blood stem cell donation and 12 months after a bone marrow donation.

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 emailing

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

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? What if I'm breastfeeding?


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.


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 not breastfeeding, 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.

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.

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.

Blood stem cells: how it works

How are blood stem cells collected?

Blood stem cells are collected from donors in one of two ways:

  • Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection takes from the bloodstream. This procedure is used in 90 percent of donations. No surgery is necessary; you can usually leave the clinic on the same day.
  • Bone marrow donation is used in 10 percent of donations. This takes place under general anaesthesia using a puncture needle in the iliac crest of the pelvis. Your stay in hospital can last up to three days in total.
Find out more

Am I missing stem cells after my donation?

A stem cell donation is comparable to a blood donation, and does not lead to a permanent loss of stem cells.

The body reproduces the blood stem cells within about two weeks. Four weeks after donation, your blood levels are checked. This is to make sure that the relevant blood values have returned to normal.

Does a donor need 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.

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 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: waiting to be matched

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 - name, address, phone number, email address, registered GP - change, please let us know using our Update Details form.

Have questions?

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.

How many years will I be on the donor registry?

You can register as a potential donors 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:

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.

Find out more: Updating your donor profile.

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 (your blood draw appointment), 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

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 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.

Have questions?

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.

Blood stem cells: organising your donation

How far will I need to travel to donate?

We currently have specialist donation centres in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and 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

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

The donation process is voluntary, as a donor you will not receive any payment for the stem cells you donate.

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

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

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

About to have a Covid-19 vaccine

We ask our donors to do:

  • PCR tests at their medical and on the day of donation.
  • LFT tests before attending the donation unit (the morning of the medical or donation), before starting GCSF and before the patient starts their treatment. We will remind you when to do this by email or text.
  • We also ask donors doing a BM harvest to do a PCR 72 hours before being admitted.

We no longer need to know a donor's Covid vaccine status but we will ask donors if they have tested positive for Covid 19 in the last six months as this may be clinically relevant.

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

Contact with 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.

Higher risk of infection

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: events

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

I am celebrating a special event 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 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.

How can I stop receiving fundraising information from DKMS?

If you no longer wish to receive fundraising communications from DKMS, you can change your contact preferences under Question 7 on the Update your details form.

If you want to stop receiving fundraising communications from all charities, you can select to opt-out via the Fundraising Preference Service.

Fundraising for DKMS: make a gift

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


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 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

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

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

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


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 or phone 020 8747 5656.

How can trusts give to DKMS?

Please contact Caroline Richardson, 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

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

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.

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Get involved, support our mission
Join the register, raise awareness, do a fundraising challenge - you choose!