Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about stem cell donation.

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Questions from donors

How does the registration work?

With a buccal swab, you can take swabs of your buccal mucosa and send them back to our laboratory along with your completed declaration of consent. After registration, we save the examination results of the buccal swab in the database and make them available anonymously for the global patient search.

Every euro counts in the fight against blood cancer because the registration of a new donor alone costs DKMS €40. Not all donors are able to bear the costs of their registration themselves. As a charitable organization, we are therefore dependent on monetary donations.

Become a donor online.

You can also register with DKMS at one of our public donor drives or at one of our partner institutions.

Who is eligible to become a potential donor?

Any healthy adult between the ages of 17 and 55 can become a donor. If you are already on our register, it is not necessary to be added again. If you suffer or have suffered from a chronic illness or any other severe illness or regularly take medication, please discuss your case with DKMS.

The most important exclusion criteria are:

Weight under 7 stone 12lbs/50kg

The number of stem cells that can be collected during the donation process depends on the weight of the donor: if the donor has a higher weight, it is generally possible to collect more stem cells. If the amount of transplanted stem cells is low, the chances of a successful transplantation usually decrease, too. This is why there is a need for a minimum weight.

If the donor has a low weight, the amount of stem cells collected during the donation process can be so low that it impacts the success of the transplantation. Therefore, a donation/registering in our donor center is not sensible if the weight is significantly below 7 stone 12lbs.

Obesity (e.g. body mass index (BMI)>40)

For registering as well as for donating there is a maximum Body-Mass-Index (BMI) limit of 40.

This is because of multiple reasons: While a stem cell donation is harmless for healthy people, there are health risks if the donor suffers from other pre-existing risky conditions. Severe obesity is unfortunately one of these risk factors.

Severe obesity is problematic because both donation processes present a threat on the donor’s health: On the one hand, a donor with obesity has a higher risk for complications during anesthesia. On the other hand, the peripheral stem cell donation is not without unforeseeable risks, such as the difficulty to correctly dose the necessary medication, which also increases the side effects. Moreover, the bone marrow harvest might be impossible due to anatomic reasons.

The rate for complications unfortunately increases with severe obesity. The maximum weight limit is not intended to discriminate against certain groups of people, but only has the intend to protect the health of our donors, which is our greatest responsibility.

Severe illnesses of the central nervous system or mental illness

As with many diseases, the eligibility as a donor depends on the severity of the depression/anxiety. First of all, the question arises whether the potential donor is limited due to their illness and how resilient they are in their everyday life. The donation process is an additional mental burden, which has to be managed on top of everything else.

It is not only the question whether the donor will be able to reliably come to the donation appointment, but also how they can handle the situation after the donation. After all, they would gain a seriously ill “blood relative” through the donation and many donors really worry about their patient.

Particular concerns also arise, because many psychotropic drugs cause changes in the blood count. Especially neuroleptics are problematic in this regard, making it impossible to donate 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 the everyday life. This applies to donors whose medication contains less problematic substances, such as Citalopram or Fluoxetine.

Systematic autoimmune diseases or other severe chronic illnesses (e.g. diabetes or rheumatism)

It is problematic to register donors with diabetes mellitus type I in regards to protecting the donor as well as the recipient.

Diabetes mellitus type I is an autoimmune disease which leads to the destruction of the insulin-building cells of the pancreas. Since the transplanted cells are cells from the immune system, it can not be excluded that the disease will be transmitted to the patient. Because the health of the patient is already very weak, it is impossible to say which effect the disease would have on them. Severe complications are very likely.

Additionally, due to the increased blood sugar level, diabetes can cause – to a varying degree - consequential damages of the nerves and blood vessels. We do not want to risk a worsening of the disease through the stem cell donation.

This is why people suffering from diabetes are not eligible as a donor.

It is not possible to register as a stem cell donor if suffering from a rheumatic disease, even if the potential donor is currently not 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 onto 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 chemo therapy to prepare for the transplantation, and the transplantation itself, a negative autoimmune reaction could be potentially fatal. This is the reason why it is not possible to donate stem cells and therefore to register as a stem cell donor if suffering from autoimmune diseases, including diabetes mellitus type I.

Cancer (including being cancer-free, but having had cancer in the past)

Unfortunately, we cannot register people who were suffering from a malignant disease in the past as stem cell donors.

Anybody who has suffered from a malignant tumor (explicitly: suffered from a not clearly benign tumor), is not eligible as a blood or stem cell donor. This does not depend on the success of the therapy or on how long in the past the cancer occurred.

Addictive disorder (alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs)

The occasional consumption of marihuana or cannabis does not influence the eligibility as a donor. However, we have to stress that this only applies to occasional consumption.

A reason for that is that a donor’s reliability has to be questioned if any kinds of drugs are used regularly. We do not predict a medically relevant endangerment, however an unreliable donor is highly problematic, because stem cell transplantations are realized on a tight schedule to not endanger the life of the patient.

It is important for us to know which kind of drugs are consumed and for how long. If the drugs have been consumed for a long period of time, it might be better not to register as a donor. If that is not the case and if the potential donor is capable and willing to stop consuming, they may register as stem cell donor.

Severe heart diseases

Registering as a donor and donating is possible if suffering from well-regulated high blood pressure or a mitral valve prolapse, if there are no health problems stemming from the condition. The same is true for an exceptionally high or low resting heart beat, as long as it is still steady.

Most of the other heart diseases that require treatment or at least monitoring unfortunately prohibit the eligibility as a donor because they greatly increase the risk of complications during the donation. Those conditions include cardiac dysrhythmia, damage to the vascular walls, arteriosclerosis (especially if medication with anticoagulant drugs is necessary), heart attack, strokes, or structural defects of the heart such as valvular defects. If you have questions concerning any other condition that requires treatment, please make a specific enquiry.

Severe lung diseases

Generally speaking, only healthy persons are eligible as a donor. Concerning chronic lung diseases, including diseases in the beginning stages, there is a risk of damaging the lung further during the donation. Autoimmune diseases also bear the risk of transmitting the condition onto the recipient. Many lung diseases also increase the anesthetic risk. Persons suffering from a frequent or consistent dyspnea are not eligible as a donor.

Severe kidney diseases

Generally speaking, only healthy persons are eligible as a donor. Concerning chronic kidney diseases, including diseases in the beginning stages, there is a risk of damaging the kidney further during the donation. Autoimmune diseases also bear the risk of transmitting the condition onto the recipient.

Severe tropical infectious diseases, particularly Malaria

Generally speaking, only healthy persons are eligible as a donor. Concerning chronic kidney diseases, including diseases in the beginning stages, there is a risk of damaging the kidney further during the donation. Autoimmune diseases also bear the risk of transmitting the condition onto the recipient.

Infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, HTLV and Syphilis

Every pre-existing infectious disease can be transmitted onto the recipient during the 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 that they are not protected from infectious diseases.

Diseases of the hematopoietic System (blood disorders)

Diseases of the blood and the immune system are problematic, because the stem cells of the hematopoietic system and the immune system are transmitted through the transplantation. Our goal is to make the transplantation as successful as possible. Conditions that have developed during the lifetime of the donor can also be transmitted during the transplantation, because the transplant includes mature cells of the immune system. Additionally, some diseases can increase the risk of the donation for the donor. Examples hereof are a higher risk for thrombosis or bleeding if the donor has a condition affecting the coagulation factors.


You are eligible as a stem cell donor without additional consultation if the following criteria (see brackets) apply to you:

ENLARGED THYROID/UNDERACTIVE THYROID (HYPOTHYROIDISM)/HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS (STABLE AND SYMPTOM-FREE; ALSO WHEN TAKING THYROID HORMONES OR IODIDE; NO GRAVE’S DISEASE)

In many cases, an enlarged thyroid (goiter) is caused by a lack of iodine (iodine-deficiency goiter). A lack of thyroid hormones can also lead to an enlarged thyroid. Here, the thyroid tries to compensate for the low hormone production by creating more tissue. If you are symptom-free and your thyroid hormones are well adjusted, neither issue poses a contraindication for a donation.

If the cause of the hypothyroidism is a thyroid operation, this does not present an obstacle for inclusion in our database as long as this was not due to Grave’s disease or thyroid cancer.

If the cause for the hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), the potential donor may be permitted to donate stem cells – at least temporarily – only through surgical collection from the pelvic bone. This would be clarified in more detail once the donor is considered for a patient. If the patient has an underactive thyroid without any other prior thyroid disease, this is likewise not a problem.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is among the few autoimmune diseases that do not present an obstacle for stem cell donation. However, it is important that the thyroid is well controlled with medication. In addition, it may be that the potential donor – at least temporarily – can only be permitted to donate stem cells via surgical collection from the pelvic bone. This would be clarified in more detail once the donor is considered for a patient.

Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid that results in an overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). In this case, a donation can be problematic both for the recipient as well as for the donor.

High blood pressure (stable and well-controlled)

High blood pressure generally does not impact the stem cell donation if the condition is well-regulated with drugs or through an adapted diet. Furthermore, the high blood pressure should not have caused any damages to the eyes, heart or vessels. If the high blood pressure is well-regulated, it does not impact the eligibility as a stem cell donor.

Hay fever, mild asthma (without attacks), food allergy

It is possible to donate stem cells if the donor is suffering from an allergy (including food allergies, hay fever or drug allergies), with the exception of severe allergic reactions (e.g. allergic shocks or Quincke's Edema) in the past. In this case we would like to ask you to contact us, because it may impact your eligibility as a donor.

Unipolar depression (without any limitations in the everyday life))

As with many diseases, the eligibility as a donor depends on the severity of the depression. First of all, the question arises whether the potential donor is limited due to their illness and how resilient they are in their everyday life. The donation process is an additional mental burden, which has to be managed on top of everything else.

It is not only the question whether the donor will be able to reliably come to the donation appointment, but also how they can handle the situation after the donation. After all, they would gain a seriously ill “blood relative” through the donation and many donors really worry about their patient.

Particular concerns also arise, because many psychotropic drugs cause changes in the blood count. Especially neuroleptics are problematic in this regard, making it impossible to donate 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 the everyday life. This applies to donors whose medication contains less problematic substances, such as Citalopram or Fluoxetine.

Iron-deficiency anemia (treatable with iron supplement)

Concerning the frequently occurring iron-deficiency anemia, the determining factor is the hemoglobin 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. However, if the iron supplement is well-tolerated and the iron level and the hemoglobin level are okay, the donor would still be eligible for stem cell donation.

Basal cell carcinoma and cervical carcinoma in situ

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

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


The registration at DKMS is only possible for persons who are permanent residents of Germany. Potential donors from other countries can register at their local registries. You can find a lift of your national registries on www.wmda.info or www.bmdw.org.

What happens after registration?

Within a few days you will receive the DKMS registration set by mail. Fill out the forms and take two swabs of your buccal mucosa with the enclosed swabs.

Next, return the set to us by mail. We will analyze your tissue characteristics and save the results in our database.

At the same time, we will send your tissue characteristics in an anonymous form to the ZKRD Central Bone Marrow Donor Register for Germany in Ulm. This means you will become available as a potential donor to patients around the world.

Based on our experience, no more than 5% of potential stem cell donors end up donating stem cells within the first ten years. For new donors, the probability is approximately 1% within the first year after typing. But what happens if your tissue characteristics do actually match?

Health check and confirmatory typing (CT)

You will receive a detailed health questionnaire so that possible current exclusion criteria for a donation can be detected early. This is followed by a confirmatory typing (CT), in which the tissue characteristics are analyzed again using an additional blood sample. The CT can be performed by your general practitioner, for example. In addition, your blood is tested for specific infectious agents, such as HIV or hepatitis viruses. Using these results, a decision is made as to whether you are a 100% match for your patient.

How does a stem cell donation proceed?

Peripheral stem cell donation

In approximately 80% of cases, the stem cells are removed from the bloodstream. In order to increase the number of stem cells in the bloodstream, the donor is administered a growth factor (hormone-like substance) over a period of five days. This substance, which the body normally releases during an infection, ensures that an increased number of stem cells is being produced in the bone marrow and that they are flowing into the bloodstream, where the stem cells are ultimately collected. The donation lasts 4 - 8 hours on one to two consecutive days. No operation is necessary; you can usually leave the clinic on the same day. This procedure has been used in medicine since 1988 and for DKMS donors since 1996. During the administration of the medication, you may experience flu-like symptoms. There is no evidence of long-term side effects according to the current state of research. In order to continue to monitor this, we remain in regular contact with our donors.

Bone marrow donation

In this method, bone marrow from the iliac crest (not spinal marrow!) is removed from the donor using a puncture needle under general anesthesia. Two small incisions in the area of the rear pelvic bone are usually sufficient. The resulting wounds are so small that they only require a few stitches and often do not require any at all and heal quickly. The collection takes place with the donor laying on his/her stomach and lasts approximately 60 minutes. When making a bone marrow donation, the risk is primarily limited to complications from anesthesia. Approximately one liter of bone marrow/blood mixture is collected from the iliac crest. Within two weeks, the body completely regenerates the donated bone marrow. You may experience local wound pain similar to a bruise. In very rare cases, donors may experience pain that lasts longer. The hospital stay lasts a total of three days. In most cases, donors take sick leave for a few days as a safety precaution.

Will I be missing stem cells after the donation?

The body regenerates the stem cells within two weeks. The process is comparable to a blood donation and does not lead to a permanent loss of stem cells.

Can you choose the method of stem cell donation?

The method of collection depends on the patient’s state of health. Of course, we try to accommodate your preferences. However, depending on the situation of the patient, one method may be excluded or preferred due to medical reasons. In principle, you should be prepared for both methods.

How is my patient doing? Can I meet him or her?

Patient health

We receive information about the patient’s state of health from the transplantation clinic no earlier than three months after the stem cell donation. If the donor would like feedback, he or she will generally receive a message from DKMS. If you have additional questions, the donor–patient contact department is available at the following number and would be happy to help: +49-(0)7071-943-1360.

Contact to patients in Germany

German guidelines stipulate that donors and patients may only meet each other in person two years after the donation. In the meantime, donors can contact patients anonymously, sending letters or gifts via DKMS. Due to privacy reasons, DKMS has no direct contact to the patients and often has only a minimal influence on the forwarding of mail to patients. Here, we depend on the support of the clinic treating the patient. Since patients often receive further treatment from another clinic after the transplantation, for example, delays may occur. After the end of the two-year period, donors and patients may write to each other directly or meet each other in person – again mediated by DKMS, provided both parties agree. Our experience over the years has shown that many donors and patients want to get to know each other. Time and time again, meetings between donors and patients are very moving moments. It is not uncommon for lasting friendships to develop.

Contact to patients abroad

In many cases, different regulations apply for donations into or out of the country as regards contact between donors and patients. Some countries are more liberal, whereas others do not allow any contact at all. Here, too, DKMS is happy to help bring donors and patients together provided it is permitted by law.

Can a potential donor withdraw his/her commitment to donate?

You may withdraw from making a donation at short notice for personal and other reasons. You should know that we respect your decision regardless. However, if you make a commitment shortly before the actual transplantation, the doctors initiate the patient’s preparation phase for the stem cell transplantation. As of this point in time, the patient cannot survive without the subsequent transfer of your stem cells.

How am I protected as a donor?

The statutory accident insurance specifically protects people who act in the interest of others or the general public. The insurance protection exists by law without requiring a separate insurance and covers, among other things, blood donors and donors of endogenous tissue. Therefore, this legal insurance protection exists for you as a donor as well. In addition, the DKMS has concluded two additional accident insurance policies for you.

These insure the surgical procedure or outpatient stem cell collection. Your travel to and from the collection clinic is also covered.

Will I be granted sick leave for my donation and how will my employer react?

In the case of a stem cell donation, your employer will be contacted by DKMS. You will receive a certificate to present to your employer in which we ask your employer to release you from your duties for the period of the preliminary examination and the collection. Years of experience have shown that employers react very positively when an employee is asked to donate stem cells.

For peripheral stem cell collection, you are unable to work on the one or two collection days only. If, despite expectations, you require sick leave, a certificate can be issued by your general practitioner. For bone marrow collection from the iliac crest, you are generally in the hospital for three days (including the admission and discharge day), even though the procedure takes little more than an hour. In most cases, donors subsequently take sick leave for a few days as a safety precaution.

Is an HIV test performed at the same time that a person is added to the DKMS database?

A part of your tissue characteristic combinations will be examined upon admission in DKMS; however, no tests for specific infectious agents are carried out. Since specific requests for a stem cell donation are usually not made until years later, we do not examine you for specific infectious agents such as HIV and hepatitis B and C until you are actually being considered as a donor besides Cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Can a person donate stem cells multiple times?

There are donors who have already donated stem cells multiple times for one or more patients. Since stem cells regenerate again after collection (similar to a blood donation), it is possible to donate multiple times. In principle, however, we are mindful to keep the burden for you low. In order to reserve a donor who has already given stem cells to a patient for an additional donation in the event of a possible relapse of the same patient’s state of health and to protect the donor from multiple procedures for other patients, we search for people with identical tissue characteristic combinations for every living donor using the DKMS Replacement Donor Program.

Why do I need the DKMS donor card?

Once you are added as a potential stem cell donor, you will receive a DKMS donor card after a few weeks in the mail. This will contain your personal donor number. It makes our work easier if you keep the donor card close to hand and state your donor number when we contact you.

I am homosexual. Can I donate?

Yes, since the 18th Decemeber 2014 the ZKRD Zentrales Knochenmarkspender-Register Deutschland applied the new "Deutschen Standards für die nicht verwandte Blutstammzellspende" (German Standards for Unrelated Blood Stem Cell Donations). In this valid version (V10) the corresponding sentence form paragraph 2.2.3 in version V9 - excluding risk groups from stem cell donations - was being removed.

How does a stem cell donor search proceed?

First the clinic that is treating the patient checks whether siblings are suitable as donors. Currently only about 30% of patients in Germany find suitable donors in their family. If this is unsuccessful, the search extends to additional family members. Generally a family tree with the corresponding tissue characteristics is created this way.

If no suitable donor is found within the family, the search for a unrelated donor begins. The immunogenetic institute of the clinic treating the patient receives the anonymized data of all suitable donors from the central bone marrow donor register (Zentrales Knochenmarkspenderegister, ZKRD) in Ulm.

What if I am/become pregnant?

You can still register with us as a potential stem cell donor during your pregnancy as long as you fulfill the other requirements for donor suitability. Please let us know whether you are pregnant and let us know what your due date is.

From this time and generally six months after the birth (nursing and recovery time), you will not be able to be a donor. After this period has ended, you will once again be available for inquiries unless we hear otherwise from you. You can store your child’s stem cells for public benefit at the DKMS Cord Blood Bank. Additional information can be found on the DKMS Cord Blood Bank web site.

General questions

Does bone marrow have anything to do with spinal marrow?

Spinal marrow (part of the central nervous system) and bone marrow (the most important hematopoietic organ in humans) are often confused. The donor’s spinal marrow remains unaffected. If collection is required via a surgical procedure, the bone marrow and/or the stem cells are removed from the iliac crest. The collection is carried out under general anesthesia.

Does the donor have to have the same blood type as the patient?

For stem cell transplantation, it does not come down to matching blood types, but rather to the most precise match possible of tissue characteristics (HLA characteristics) between the donor and patient. Finding an almost 100% match is very complicated and is therefore often compared to the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. If a donation is made, the recipient also takes the blood group of the donor together with the stem cells.

I am already registered in another database. Can I still be entered into the DKMS database as well?

A double registration is unnecessary since the data of all potential stem cell donors from all German databases are stored at the central bone marrow donor register (Zentrales Knochenmarkspenderegister, ZKRD) in Ulm. Your donor data are already available in anonymized form for the global donor search. A second entry in our database would result in unnecessary costs.

How is the security of my data ensured?

Privacy and data security are our top priority at DKMS and thus for every employee. The protection of your personal data is a particular concern for us. In order to ensure privacy, DKMS has its own internal data protection officer who is responsible for enforcing the Federal Data Protection Act.

DKMS gathers, processes, and uses your personal data in accordance with the declaration of consent (provided this is legally permissible and necessary) to find suitable stem cell donors only.

Your personal data are stored exclusively at DKMS and at our official partner Cellex/CMS. We only transmit data that are relevant to the search, such as HLF tissue characteristics, age, and gender along with the assigned donor number to national and/or international search registers such as the ZKRD (central bone marrow donor register for Germany) and the National Marrow Donor Program in the United States (NMDP).

How detailed are the typings performed by DKMS?

The tissue characteristics of a donor are analyzed for typing. The more detailed (i.e. high-resolution) the tissue characteristics of a donor are, the faster it is to check whether he or she could be a life-saver for a patient, since subsequent typing is no longer required.

According to the latest scientific knowledge, at least ten characteristics must match between the donor and patient in order for the transplantation to be successful. In order to save vital time, DKMS has thus been carrying out high-resolution typing for all donors upon the admission into the database since May 2010, focusing on these ten characteristics, which are the most relevant for a transplantation.

However, DKMS is not only the leader in quality. The laboratories contracted by us work according to the most modern standards of science and are able to type more than 25,000 samples per month. People who register with DKMS can therefore be sure that their tissue characteristics are typed and made available for the global donor search as quickly as possible.

Why is stem cell donation not possible in every large clinic?

Not every clinic has the technical capacity and expertise to carry out a stem cell donation. Collecting stem cells should only take place at a collection center that has experience and that has undergone a corresponding certification process. We can guarantee this for clinics where DKMS donors have stem cells collected.

What is the DKMS Life Science Lab?

DKMS Life Science Lab is a tissue typing laboratory that has been set up in accordance with state-of-the-art scientific aspects, that is accredited pursuant to international guidelines (ASHI and EFI) and which is currently one of the world’s largest institutions of this type. DKMS Life Science Lab conducts more than 60,000 HLA tissue typings (Loci) of stem cell donors for DKMS every month.

The tissue typing procedure applied in the process is the so-called high resolution sequencing according to Sanger. In the adjacentclinical HLA lab, HLA tissue typings and compatibility examinations are conducted for patients, family members and HLA tissue typings in the scope of the unrelated donor search as well as scientific studies.

The search unit connected with DKMS Life Science Lab is accredited by the ZKRD Central Bone Marrow Donor Registry in Germany and it conducts searches for family and unrelated donors for individual patients.

Questions from patients

When is stem cell transplantation used?

Stem cell transplantations are predominantly carried out in patients suffering from diseases of the hematopoietic system. This includes different forms of leukemia and lymphoma in children and adults who have severe aplastic anemia, severe congenital immunodeficiency (only in children) as well as various diseases of the red blood cells. Most frequently, however, stem cell transplantation is used to treat various forms of blood cancer.

What are the first signs of success of a stem cell transplantation?

After approximately two to four weeks, the increase in white blood cells gives patients a first indication of whether the new stem cells are doing their job and making healthy blood cells. This generally happens faster after a transplantation of stimulated peripheral blood stem cells than after a transplantation of stem cells from bone marrow. With a steady increase in white blood cells, a second chance at life also increases for the patient.

What happens if no matching donor is found?

In this case, doctors try to help the patient using other forms of treatment. Depending on the specific disease, radiation and chemotherapy are primarily used. However, for many patients, a stem cell transplant is the only method that offers a good prospect of recovery.

Financial questions

Why does DKMS ask for monetary donations?

DKMS is dependent on monetary donations for the further expansion of the database. Although the costs incurred for registration have become significantly lower over time – from DM 600 to €40 – we still need to generate them from donations. Unfortunately, this price cannot fall any more without deviating from our standards of quality.

When DKMS was founded in 1991, we received start-up funding from German Cancer Aid and the Federal Ministry of Health for multiple years. However, this aid ceased at the end of 1994.

How is DKMS funded?

Until 1994, DKMS was financially supported by the German Cancer Aid and the Federal Ministry of Health. Since then our funding has rested on two pillars: Firstly, we receive monetary donations from individuals and businesses. Secondly, DKMS receives reimbursements from public health insurance funds for maintaining the database, carrying out additional laboratory examinations, and organizing the collection of stem cells.

Do I receive a tax donation receipt / donation certificate for my monetary donation?

We issue donation certificates for donations as little as 50 euro. Therefore, please make sure to provide us with your name and address: geldspende@dkms.de.

Confirmation of your donation: According to the last notice of exemption received by us and/or according to the appendix to the corporate tax assessment by the Tübingen tax authority, Tax ID No. 86168/15007 dated 04/17/2012, we are exempt from corporate tax in accordance with Section 5, Para. 1, Item 9 of the Corporate Tax Act and from trade tax in accordance with Section 3, Item 6 of the German Trade Tax Act due to the promotion of the humanitarian and charitable purposes below, the promotion of science and research as well as the promotion of public health knowledge.

It is confirmed that the contribution shall only be used for the promotion of humanitarian and charitable purposes below, the promotion of science and research as well as the promotion of public health knowledge.

Why doesn't my health insurance provider pay the cost for typing?

According to the provisions of Volume V of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch V, SGB V), health insurance providers may only bear treatment costs for the recovery of the person insured. On the other hand, if you are eligible as a donor, the patient’s health insurance provider shall assume all additional costs arising due to a possible stem cell transplantation. These include further examinations of your blood as well as the costs associated with your stem cell donation in the hospital, your travel expenses, and any loss of earnings you may suffer.

Health insurance providers support us with file maintenance, among other things. The quality of donor data (e.g. up-to-date addresses) is very important for our work. This is one reason why DKMS sends a DKMS donor card to all potential stem cell donors and writes to them once a year. In this way, we can check addresses and keep you informed about new developments.

Who bears the costs when I donate stem cells to a patient?

The health insurance provider of the affected patients will pay for all required examinations and treatments in the run up to the donation, as well as for your hospital stay, if applicable. Likewise, it will assume the costs of any loss in earnings, travel costs, and other non-medical expenses. Cellex/CMS regulates all organizational aspects for you. You do not need to worry about anything. DKMS will handle the billing of the health insurance provider. The employees of Cellex/CMS are happy to advise you with regard to any questions you may have in connection with a stem cell donation.

Working at DKMS

What kinds of professional qualifications or fields of expertise do I need in order to work for DKMS?

DKMS offers a diverse range of jobs at various locations in Germany. In addition to medical roles (medical and technical assistants, biologists, doctors, and many other occupations requiring basic medical knowledge), we are also looking for qualified employees in the fields of IT, accounting, management, marketing, fundraising, and media.

Since 2011, DKMS has also offered trainee positions in various areas. You can find our current vacancies here.

Other ways to help

There are many ways to support our fight against blood cancer.

Register as a stem cell donor. You may save someone's life.

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