Mankiewicz employees register as stem cell donors

DKMS has set itself the goal of defeating blood cancer. Every day, they motivate people to register with the database to give people around the world a chance at a second life! We are particularly pleased that since the DKMS registration campaign, six colleagues have already been shortlisted as stem cell donors and thus as potential life savers. Considering the fact that more than 13,000 tissue characteristics have to match in donor and recipient, this is probably a remarkable number!

Many thanks to all helpers, registrants and previous donors for their commitment before, during and after the campaign. We are looking forward to adding many more donors to the existing ones in the near future.

Rijad L.: Stem cell donor at the age of 19

My journey as a stem cell donor began about a year ago while I was at school. At a DKMS campaign day in our assembly hall, I spontaneously decided to register - a decision significantly influenced by my little cousin's leukemia. So, I knew what it meant to be powerless and dependent on another person who was out there somewhere.

I didn't expect to be considered a donor after I registered, so I was all the more surprised when I received a call from DKMS in the middle of the working day. After some preliminary examinations and blood tests, it turned out that I was the most suitable donor for the patient, alongside other donor candidates. That was a big surprise, and I was very excited that it was really going to happen.

The donation itself took place at the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart. I felt a lot of anticipation but also a bit nervous - my pulse was 120 - when things got serious. After a comprehensive check-up and a pre-treatment, it was time to get down to business: My stem cells were filtered out of my blood using a machine over a period of about five hours. I was given access to the left and right arm veins. The blood came out on the left and went through a filter apparatus in which the stem cells were filtered out before it was returned to my body via the right access. In the meantime, you have a lot of time to think and hope that everything goes smoothly. I asked myself who the person I was helping was. 

The donation went without complications, and the care provided by the medical staff was excellent. I felt that I was in safe hands at all times. After a brief observation following the donation, I was able to return home quite quickly. The aftercare provided by DKMS is also very well organized.

I receive updates on the patient's condition at intervals of several months throughout the year, which is very important to me. Immediately after the donation, I discovered she was a German woman over 30 years old. I find contacting the recipient after two years particularly exciting, and I hope this will happen. Overall, this experience has been very rewarding and has shown me how easy it can be to help save a life. My story will inspire others to register as stem cell donors. It only takes a little time and can make such a difference!

Stefan J.: Millions of cells to down under

I have been registered with DKMS for almost two decades and during this time I was always hoping to be able to save someone’s life in our neighborhood. Years went by and I was not asked, but then a year ago a call came out of the blue and I was called for a preliminary examination. On that occasion the potential recipient opted for an alternative treatment, but recently I was contacted again.

It did come as a bit of a surprise and, even when the prospect is no easy one, it was a goosebump moment for me. I was very happy that I could help at long last and actually save a life. I didn't know anything about my genetic twin, for reasons of privacy, but I was anyhow immediately ready to get started. The first step is a complete health check, to make sure that only healthy stem cells are made available. I got a clean bill of health, so we could start with the pre-treatment in the form of a spray cure for collection. To be honest I had to endure a few side effects: headaches, back pain and a fair amount of leg pain. But heck, what's that when it gives you the chance to save a life? The harvesting itself is performed by a machine and takes a good four to five hours, constantly supervised by several medical specialists. In the end, I was clearly able to deliver a very good result with 5.6 million stem cells (only 4.2 million were needed).

After being extracted in Cologne, my stem cells were shock-frozen and shipped to Australia for delivery to my 30-something recipient there. This information I only learned a short time after my donation. Now I have to wait and see whether my stem cells are accepted. I will be kept informed about this at regular intervals for several months. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the treatment will be successful and hope that I will be able to meet my recipient at some point, at the earliest after two years – if he or she wants to.

All in all, the entire process was very well organized by DKMS, from medical advice to collection and aftercare. I have since also joined the DKMS Donor Club, in this way I can support the organization even further. For example, by giving advice to potential donors or as an ambassador at information events. I think the work of the DKMS is enormously important, because, after all, we could all find ourselves in difficulty and in urgent need of a donor.

Anna N.: Encountering my genetic twin

I have had occasion to report twice so far about my experiences as a donor with DKMS: First about my stem cell donation in 2016 and then about the initial contact in writing with the recipient of my stem cells in 2019. Contact between donor and recipient is only possible after a waiting period and by mutual consent. Now I have reached another important and exciting milestone on my journey, because this year our summer vacation took us to France. It is where my recipient, who was living in America at the time of the donation, has since moved to. We soon agreed that we would both like to get to know one another face-to-face at long last. Contact between donor and recipient is usually only possible after a blocking period and after mutual consent.

I was very excited before we arrived: How would the first meeting go? Would we like one another? After all, we were two complete strangers and had previously only been in contact by email. It therefore came as a relief that my family and I were welcomed with open arms and it was a very emotional moment for everyone. We spent a few wonderful days together and got to know each other well, explored his hometown and shared his passion for good food. Although there was one topic we kept coming back to: He related to us a lot about his serious illness, his stem cell transfusion and the many worrying thoughts that went through his head. He was also extremely curious about my story: Why did I register? How does the process work in Germany? Why was I so eager to meet him?

We exchanged our views at length and had a great time together. Whenever we were together, I often detected in him an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being given a second chance. A beautiful friendship has since developed and we now plan another meeting, this time in Hamburg.

The more people who are registered with DKMS, the more lives can be saved. We thank all those who have registered and the donors for their support on this important issue. Let us continue to delete blood cancer together with the DKMS. Request a registration kit on the DKMS Website or, if you are a Mankiewicz employee, contact the HR department.

Help out and register today!