DKMS is a charity established to create a global network of people willing to donate bone marrow to those suffering with blood cancers.

Every 27 seconds, someone somewhere in the world will be diagnosed with a blood cancer, and will be in need of a bone marrow match if they are to stand the best chances of survival.

The story of DKMS began with one family fighting to save someone they loved. When Mechtild Harf was told that the only treatment for her leukaemia 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 their first year of operations they 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.

The premise is a simple one – order a swab kit, submit your sample to the registry and wait. If you’re a match you’ll submit stem cells initially, then bone marrow. And that’s it. Someone gets a second chance at life.

If you can fight back the tears, watch this video of how a 4 year old boy met the lady who saved his life at a recent DKMS event.

Charitable donations help support this vital activity but additionally the charity works hard to:

  • Engage the public as well as companies to organise donor registration events.
  • Raise funds to increase both the size and diversity of the worldwide pool of available stem cell donors.
  • Improve blood cancer treatment – through our own research and state-of-the-art technology in our laboratory.
  • Maintain their donor relationship from day one of registration until stem cell donation.

It’s a wonderfully simple, but ultimately and incredibly powerful concept – to build a world wide database of donors. If you need a donor, you might find a match from India, or Australia, or China. Another soul entirely unknown to you who was good enough to donate some cells that will help save your life.

A truly global ambition, and one that requires a database be maintained that is as big as it needs be. But with a global problem like cancer, solutions need to be truly global.

So I’m extraordinarily grateful that this year Jellybean has been good enough to support this cause – one that has affected both family and close friends.

If this story has touched you, please visit their website and hit the big red button. Then please tell everyone you love and ask them to do the same.

Kindness is contagious and one day, somewhere, you could save a life.