DKMS Foundation

Publication date: 13.08.2019
DKMS Foundation

Damiana Medical Centre is the first private medical centre in Poland where treatments involving the collection of stem cells and bone marrow from unrelated donors are performed, which are then transplanted to people suffering from haematopoietic cancer (bone marrow cancer): leukaemia, lymphomas, myeloproliferative disorder and not cancerous bone marrow disorders like aplastic anaemia.

Potential stem cells donor is referred by DKMS Foundation to Damiana Medical Centre to carry out detailed medical tests and final qualification for stem cells donation. If a donor is ultimately qualified by Damiana Medical Centre doctors, a procedure of taking the cells is performed by one of the methods:

  • Peripheral stem cells collection;
  • Bone marrow aspiration from iliac crest.

Peripheral stem cells collection

Cells are collected with apheresis method, applied in about 80% of patients.

For about 4 days before donation and on the first day of donation the donor is administered growth factor G-CSF, which increases amount of hematopoietic cells and their release from bone marrow to blood. G-CSF is naturally present in human’s body, and it’s excretion increases during infections. After G-CSF administering, stem cells can be selected and separated from blood. During administering of growth factor influenza-like symptoms may occur. Those are: bone pain, muscle pain, headache, light fever, malaise.

On the collection day, intravenous cannulas (venflons) are inserted into both donor’s forearms. Blood flows from one forearm, through so called cells separator and back to the body through another intravenous cannula. In the separator stem cells are separated from other blood cells and collected as graft material.

The procedure does not require hospitalization and lasts about 4-5 hours. There is a possibility (40%) that the procedure will have to be repeated on the next day if on the first day the number of taken cells is not enough.

This method has been known around the world since the early 90s. According to present medical knowledge, no long-term side effects have been observed.

Taking bone marrow from wing of ilium

The method is used in about 20% of cases. Bone marrow is aspirated from iliac crest (not from spine) with an aspiration needle. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and lasts about one hour. The donor is prepared in the ward for usually 2-3 days.

During the procedure the donor lays on an abdomen and two doctors simultaneously aspire bone marrow from iliac crests. /During aspiration procedure two skin incisions (of about 5 mm) are performed over upper posterior iliac crest, and a needle is inserted into the bone. Aspiration is performed with a syringe. The healing process is very quick.

During the procedure, a mixture of about 1-1.5 litre of bone marrow and blood is taken. The mixture contains about 5% of bone marrow, which regenerates itself in the body within 2-3 weeks.

After marrow taking, it is normal to experience local pain, similar to bruising, which passes after a few days. There is a risk of infection or bleeding as in case of any other wound. The recovery lasts about 5 days.

How to become a donor?

To become a potential bone marrow and stem cells donor, order a registration pack on

Next the patient should fill in a form received via post and collect a smear from the inner surface of a cheek (with a sticks included in the package). The pack should be sent back to DKMS Foundation Polska. After examination of genetic material and introducing the data into the database, the Foundation will send registration confirmation and Donor Card. The whole registration process lasts about 3-4 months. The data of registered donors are given to Central Register Poltransplant and to world database of donors (BMDW).

About DKMS Foundation

DKMS Foundation is the biggest database of unrelated potential bone marrow donors in Poland – within 6 years DKMS Polska managed to register over 678,000* potential Donors. 1,936* of them donated their stem cells, giving patients from Poland and abroad a chance for a new life.

DKMS was founded in 1991 from a private initiative based on the story of Mechtild Harf suffering from leukaemia. It gave rise to one of the biggest databases of donors in the world including over 5 million registered potential stem cell donors. With the need to increase a chance to find a donor for every patient in the world, DKMS expands its activities by other centres of donors in the USA (2004), Poland (2008), Spain (2011) and Great Britain (February 2013).

In the 24 years of existence over 48.500* people from DKMS database gave a chance for life for those suffering from blood cancer. At least 15 DKMS donors give their stem cells in the world every day.

*information from 13 April 2015.