DKMS celebrates 100,000 second chances at life

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Providing hope for blood cancer and blood disorder patients worldwide in need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant

Bangalore, May 10, 2022 – Today, DKMS celebrates a significant milestone of saving 100,000 lives of blood cancer and other blood disorder patients globally by giving them a second chance at life. The organization works in the areas of blood cancer and other blood disorders by raising awareness, registering potential blood stem cell donors, and helping patients in need for blood stem cell transplant get matching donors. DKMS is an international nonprofit organization, headquartered in Tübingen, Germany. It has a global presence with entities in India, US, UK, Chile, Poland, and South Africa.

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In India, it operates as DKMS BMST Foundation India, which is a joint venture with BMST (Bangalore Medical Services Trust). DKMS-BMST was officially launched on 28th May 2019 with a mission to give every blood cancer and blood disorder patient in need with a second chance at life. Since its launch, DKMS-BMST has organized over 1300 donor registration events across various organisations such as corporates, educational institutes, hospitals and defence forces to spread awareness about blood stem cell donation and enrol more potential donors. So far, DKMS-BMST has successfully registered over 60,000 potential blood stem cell donors from India and provided 58 patients with a second chance at life. 

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Patrick Paul, CEO, DKMS BMST Foundation India, “Every 5 minutes, someone in India is diagnosed with blood cancer or other blood disorders, with over 100,000 people being diagnosed every year is a major health challenge for the country.  At present, India does not have a sufficiently large registry of adult donors. Increasing the number of Indian donors in the database will add to the data pool of HLA diversity thus, it will improve the likelihood of a suitable match. Today, the likelyhood of a patient finding a matchig donor is 1 in a million, but with more awareness and more and more people coming forward to register as potential blood stem cell donors, the odds can be substantially improved and patients will have better chances of finding a matching blood stem cell donor.

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The global milestone 100,000 second chances in life is very significant for DKMS. This is far from being just a number or a benchmark, DKMS takes pride in every single second chance at life. Each one of them represents a personal story of faith and hope, of both young and old, of their families and friends, stories of shattering sadness and fear, and stories of overwhelming joy as well as another 100,000 proud donor stories. 

DKMS support programs for patients from low- and middle-income countries

To improve the situation of patients in low-and middle-income countries, DKMS has also expanded its efforts to increase the access to transplantation. “If we want to prevent families from suffering the loss of a loved one, we need to help, where help is needed! For the second chance at life, we cross borders, collaborate globally and leave no stone unturned to help patients. Every patient with blood cancer or a life-threatening blood disease deserves that chance. Thus, we have established several support programs to increase the access to transplantation for patients living in emerging countries,” highlights Dr. Elke Neujahr, Global CEO, DKMS.

Ethnic diversity saves lives

100,000 second chances at life is also an impressive achievement that only becomes more impressive, when considering that it took DKMS 24 years to reach 50,000 second chance at life in 2015. Within just seven years the organization has now doubled that number. DKMS was only able to accomplish this so quickly because the organization expanded its footprint and is now active in seven countries on five continents. Every day, 21 DKMS donors from Germany, the USA, Poland, the UK, Chile, South Africa, and India, where DKMS operates together with BMST, donate blood stem cells for patients all over the world. Blood stem cell donations from DKMS donors haven given people in 57 countries a second chance at life.

One crucial factor in the success of a blood stem cell transplant is the degree of match between the tissue characteristics of donor and patient. Since tissue characteristics vary according to both genetics and region, the organization is doing everything possible to register as many donors of different ethnicities and nationalities as possible. Having a genetically diverse database of donors is necessary to ensure that all patients have the chance to find their match. “We thus continue to work on our expansion, as well as forming crucial partnerships across the world. We will not stop until every patient, regardless of where they live, is able to find the lifesaver they need,” says Dr. Elke Neujahr.

There are stories of blood cancer survivors like 15-year-old Maheer, from Ahmedabad. Maheer had acute leukemia when he was 6-year-old and his life depended on a stem cell donation. Nine years later he got his stem cells from his lifesaver Dr. Sita from Germany. He describes his transplant: “At that time I was very young, so I didn’t know what was happening, or why. There was so much anxiety, and my parents were so worried.  Everyone was tense, worrying constantly and crying. I didn’t understand the situation at that time, but I knew something was wrong, as my father kept on motivating me. He said there was an issue with my blood but that it would all be sorted.  After the transplant, everyone felt much happier. Not everyone is so fortunate. Many patients and their relatives are waiting in vain for help. My appeal is therefore: Please get registered.”

Stories like Maheers’, along with all the other stories of the 100,000 second chances at life, are a powerful reminder of the impact the organization’s work has on patients, their families and friends.  

“In 1991 we founded DKMS in honor of my mother, who suffered from leukemia, and her legacy which inspires us until today: that every patient in need of a blood stem cell transplant finds a matching donor who can give them a second chance at life. In the past 31 years we have worked tirelessly to make this vision come true. We are proud to announce that this year we have reached an incredible milestone: DKMS donors have provided 100,000 second chances at life to patients all over the world. It is my big dream that every patient has that chance and that other families do not have to feel the devastating pain of losing a loved one,” says Katharina Harf, Chairwoman of the DKMS Foundation Board.

The work of registering donors and facilitating transplants is inherently a team effort and every life saved is due to the collaboration, dedication, and passion of every single individual involved along the way: Every donor who has given a patient a second chance, every one of the
11 million potential donors who are registered with DKMS and provide hope to patients in need, and the countless volunteers who are dedicated to creating a world without blood cancer. “We also honor all patients and their families and friends as well as all physicians and nurses, who take the best possible care of patients and who are such an essential part of this process. Only together we can make a big impact in the lives of patients across the globe,” says Dr. Elke Neujahr.

Register as a lifesaver today

Reaching 100,000 second chances at life is an incredible accomplishment. However, the organization’s work will not be done until every patient in need of a transplant gets that second chance. With that in mind DKMS wants to encourage the public to become part of its lifesaving movement by registering as a potential lifesaver today. “It is my vision for DKMS that we will have 20 million donors registered with us and that we will be active in 20 countries by 2030 to celebrate 200,000 second chance at life,” Neujahr says in conclusion.

Healthy individuals between the age-group of 18-50 can register as a potential lifesaver at: dkms-bmst.org/register 

About DKMS BMST Foundation India

A non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and other blood disorders, such as thalassemia and aplastic anemia. Our aim to improve the situation of patients suffering from blood cancer and other blood disorders in India and throughout the world, by raising awareness about blood stem cell transplantation and registering potential blood stem cell donors. By doing this DKMS-BMST provides patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant with a second chance at life.

DKMS-BMST is a joint venture of two reputed non-profit organizations: BMST (Bangalore Medical Services Trust) and DKMS, one of the largest international blood stem cell donor centers in the world. For more information, please visit dkms-bmst.org

About DKMS

DKMS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of patients with blood cancer and blood disorders. Founded in Germany in 1991 by Dr. Peter Harf, DKMS and the organization’s over 1,000 employees have since relentlessly pursued the aim of giving as many patients as possible a second chance at life. With over 11 million registered donors, DKMS has succeeded in doing these 100,000 times to date by providing blood stem cell donations to those in need. This accomplishment has led to DKMS becoming the global leader in the facilitation of unrelated blood stem cell transplants. The organization has offices in Germany, the US, Poland, the UK, Chile and South Africa. In India, DKMS has founded the joint venture DKMS-BMST together with the Bangalore Medical Services Trust. International expansion and collaboration are key to helping patients worldwide because, like the organization itself, blood cancer knows no borders.

DKMS is also heavily involved in the fields of medicine and science, with its own research unit focused on continually improving the survival and recovery rate of patients. In its high-performance laboratory, the DKMS Life Science Lab, the organization sets worldwide standards in the typing of potential blood stem cell donors.