At the end of March 2020, we celebrated a truly meaningful milestone for the DKMS family: 10 million registered potential donors worldwide. With the help of tens of thousands of volunteers and supporters from across the globe, as well as the millions of registrants across the world who stand at the ready, this record achievement increases the likelihood of all patients finding the matching donors needed to receive a second chance at life.
When Peter Harf founded DKMS in 1991 his wife was in need of a transplant and there were only 3,000 donors registered in Germany. Though many at the time thought that creating a private donor center was an impossible task, Peter refused to accept this view, embarking on a registration campaign that added 68,000 donors to the Germany registry in a single year. Now, 29 years later, DKMS continues to build upon his vision with over 10 million registered donors in seven countries across five continents.
The importance of this achievement is further underscored by the critical role we play in the global transplant community, with nearly a third of the 36 million potential donors worldwide registered with DKMS. “This is a fantastic achievement by DKMS that is only possible because of the dedication and passion of their employees and supporters from around the world,” says Lydia Foeken, CEO of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA). Still, tens of thousands of patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders remain unable to find the matching donor they need, meaning our work is far from over.
“10 million registered donors is truly a wonderful accomplishment, but for me, and I know for all of the DKMS family, this is not about just numbers and it never will be,” explains Elke Neujahr, Global CEO of DKMS. “It is about our donors. It is about our patients. It is about everyone that is affected by these devastating diseases. This is why we also realise that, though we celebrate this milestone, we still have so much more to do.” For those of us at DKMS, along with our passionate and committed supporters, this milestone is a reminder that nothing is impossible and, together, we can overcome the greatest odds.
Thank you to all the employees who work everyday to further our lifesaving mission. Thank you to the countless supporters and volunteers who fight tirelessly to bring hope to those in need. Thank you to each and every one of our 10 million registered donors, who have provided nearly 85,000-second chances at life to complete strangers around the world. The inspiration you provide every day is the motivation that pushes us ever onward, as we work towards our ultimate dream: that we only stop, when patients no longer need our help.
DKMS is proud to be the world’s leading donor center, accounting for nearly 30% of the total donor pool. While, this is a global milestone but when it comes to India, the fact is Indians are highly underrepresented. In India, every year over 1 lakh people are diagnosed with blood cancer or other blood disorders and despite this huge burden, only 0.03% of the total population is registered as potential blood stem cell donors. While blood cancer is life-threatening, a set of healthy blood stem cells from a matching donor can be life-saving. The demand and supply gap is increasing as people don’t register themselves as potential blood stem cell donors due to the lack of awareness. You can join the team now!