When you registered as a potential bone marrow donor, you submitted a cheek swab sample that was tested to determine your tissue type. Every day, thousands of patients search a list of all registered donors hoping to find a donor whose tissue type matches his or her own. Less than 1% of registered donors will ever be a match for a patient. Congratulations! If we have contacted you it means you are part of this rare 1%.

Please choose your topic

You have been contacted for one of the following reasons:

1. During a preliminary search you ranked high on a list of potential donors who matched a specific patient.

2. A patient’s doctor has requested additional testing, using the same cheek swabs from when you registered, to get more detailed information on your tissue type.

3. A patient’s doctor has requested a blood sample to confirm that you are a match for a patient.

Review the information we sent you and call your DKMS Coordinator so s/he can:

  • Provide you with more information.
  • Review your health status to be sure it is safe for you to donate.
  • Answer your questions.

Call your DKMS Coordinator
as soon as possible. It’s important that we communicate with you right away. If you’d like to let us know the best time and way to reach you, you can submit a contact form online.

Understanding your commitment.

If you match a patient, your commitment to donate is very important but you have the right to change your mind. However, a late decision to not donate can be life-threatening for the patient. We ask that you consider this decision seriously. More information about being a donor is provided in our DONOR HANDBOOK. This handbook will help you make an informed decision. If you are unwilling or unable to participate, please let us know of your decision using our online update form.

If you have been contacted because you are a possible match for a patient, please contact a DKMS Coordinator as soon as possible.

In order to determine if you are the best match to donate to a patient, you will be asked to provide a blood sample for a confirmatory blood test arranged by your DKMS coordinator. At this time we will also test for standard infectious diseases. We will inform you of any unexpected results. All information is strictly confidential. 

When will I know if I can donate?
Following your confirmatory blood test, if it is determined that you are the best possible match for a patient, we will:

  • Schedule an information session over the phone to explain the specifics of your donation.
  • Schedule a physical exam to make sure the donation is safe for both you and the patient.

You will be asked to donate using one of two methods:

A. Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation (PBSC):
In this method, cells are collected via the bloodstream. To increase the number of stem cells in the bloodstream, donors receive daily injections of a synthetic protein called filgrastim for 4 days before and on the day of the collection. 

On the day of collection the donor's blood is removed with a sterile needle from one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood stem cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm. The cell collection is an outpatient procedure that takes about 4-8 hours on 1-2 consecutive days. 

Possible side effects and recovery: While taking the medication, many donors experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, bone and muscle achiness and fatigue. Most side effects should subside within 48 hours of donating. 

B. Bone Marrow Donation:
Marrow cells are collected from the backside of the pelvic bone (not the spine) using a special syringe. Donors receive general anesthesia so no pain is experienced during the marrow extraction. This is a 1-2 hour, outpatient, surgical procedure. 

Possible side effects and recovery: Many donors experience some pain, bruising and stiffness for up to two weeks after their donation. Within a week of donating, most donors are able to return to work, school and many regular activities. The donor’s marrow is completely replenished within a few weeks.

If you have been contacted because you are a possible match for a patient, please contact a DKMS Coordinator as soon as possible.

A detailed handbook about donating.

If you are a match, let us know how and when we can best reach you.

Learn more about DKMS Americas

If you have been contacted because you are a possible match for a patient, please contact a DKMS Coordinator as soon as possible.

What do I do next?
If you are willing to proceed as a donor, please return your health history questionnaire and call your DKMS Coordinator and so s/he can guide you through the next steps and answer your questions.

Can I choose the method of my donation?
There are two possible ways you may be asked to donate. The method of your donation is determined by what the doctors believe will be best for the patient. We ask our donors to be comfortable with both methods of donation. If you are not willing to donate through both methods, you must notify your DKMS Coordinator, so s/he can let the patient’s doctors know that you are only comfortable proceeding with one method of donation.

When will I donate?
It’s important that you follow up with us quickly so we can pass all necessary information along to the patient’s doctors. However, it’s hard to say exactly when you will donate since it so strongly depends on how the patient is doing/the patient’s treatment plan. In most cases you would be asked to donate 1-3 months after undergoing the confirmatory blood test. We will always give you 3-4 weeks advance notice for the donation. If there are any important dates you cannot donate, we will try to accommodate your schedule. 

Where will I donate?
We always try to schedule your donation at the hospital most convenient for you. In most cases we can accommodate our donors. There are some instances where the hospital closest to your home is not available. In those cases we ask our donors to travel to the next closest available hospital. We take care of your travel arrangements and cover all of your travel expenses. 

Does donating cost me money?
There is no cost to you. When a donor is matched with a patient, the patient’s insurance and DKMS will cover the costs (including any travel, meals, lodging expenses that may be necessary). DKMS will also cover the costs for a companion to travel to the donation. A donor’s own health insurance will never be used. While most donors do not require follow up care, if it is needed, the donor will be covered by the patient’s insurance. DKMS does offer a financial assistance program for lost wages. Please speak to your DKMS Coordinator and we may be able to help. 

Will I permanently lose my stem cells?
For either procedure, the amount of cells donated is only a fraction of the body’s total number. The amount donated does not weaken your own immune system. The marrow/stem cells are naturally replaced within a few weeks.

Will my existing medical condition prevent me from donating? 
We take the health and safety of our donors very seriously. All donors are required to complete a health history questionnaire before proceeding. Any medical concerns are reviewed by the DKMS medical director/staff to fully assess your ability to continue as a donor. If you are concerned about your ability to donate, please contact your DKMS Coordinator and s/he will carefully assess your eligibility with you before proceeding. Depending on your health status, it is possible that you may be temporarily unavailable to donate or need to be permanently removed from the registry. 

What is DKMS? 
DKMS is the world’s largest bone marrow donor center and was founded in Germany in 1991. DKMS stands for Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei gGmbH, or German Bone Marrow Donor Center in English. Click here to learn more about our credentials.

Checking in on your recovery.
DKMS Americas cares about your safety and wants to know the details of your recovery. We will contact you on a regular basis after your donation to ask about your physical condition. 

Updates about the patient.
The patient’s doctor may provide updates within the first year after the transplant. We will let you know if an update is available. It is important to note that sometimes we don’t receive any updates. You should be prepared for the possibility that you may not receive updates on the patient. 

Communicating with the patient.
Communication with the patient is managed through DKMS and the patient’s transplant center. During the first year after your donation some transplant centers may allow you to send anonymous correspondence to your patient. This communication may not include any self-identifying information such as your name, address, city/state or any other contact information. 

One year after the donation, some transplant centers may allow direct contact with the patient. Contact may only occur if both you and the patient consent to communicate. Additionally, some centers may not allow any communication. You should be prepared for the possibility that you might not learn your patient’s identity or have any contact with him or her.