DKMS is an international charity dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders.
We recruit blood stem cell donors, provide second chances at life for those in need of a transplant, and raise funds to cover donor registration costs.
DKMS launched in the UK in 2013. We are the biggest stem cell register in the UK. We have registered over 950,000 blood stem cell donors to date and helped to give over 2,000 people a second chance at life.
Over 2,000 people each year in the UK are in need of a blood stem cell transplant, however, just 3% of the UK’s population are registered as potential donors. Only a tiny proportion of these potential donors are from minority ethnic communities.
That’s why we exist. The more people who register as blood stem cell donors, the better the chance for someone in need of a blood stem cell transplant.
To date, worldwide, DKMS has registered over 11 million potential blood stem cell donors, and over 100,000 second chances at life have been provided by DKMS.
Our story began with one family fighting to save someone they loved. When Mechtild Harf was told 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. Her husband Peter knew his wife faced difficult odds to find a matching donor. Using his prolific business skills, he sought to answer the question of how to give his wife and patients like her the best possible chance of survival. The answer was clear: more unrelated donors meant better chances for patients in need.
On 28 May 1991, Peter founded DKMS with his wife’s transplant physician, Gerhard Ehninger. In our first year, we expanded the registry to 68,000 donors. Sadly, despite our best efforts, Mechtild 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.
Peter and his daughter Katharina Harf have kept their promise. Continuing to be motivated by Mechtild, by 1995, they built DKMS into the world’s largest stem cell donor register. Ever since, we have worked tirelessly to fulfil our mission: to provide as many blood cancer patients with a second chance at life.