DKMS is an international nonprofit organisation dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders.
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 fulfil our mission – to provide as many blood cancer patients as possible with a second chance at life.