Stem-cell transplants are the most effective way to ght leukemia – but also the greatest challenge. The donor and recipient need to have exactly the same tissue type. Once a suitable donor is found, therapy can begin but searching worldwide for a “genetic twin” can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Justine Platter had her details entered into the database at DKMS, the German blood service, as a potential donor at the age of 17. For the DMK employee who works in Corporate Communications, this was something she had always wanted to do as someone in her family had also had leukemia, and had not recovered. “I always thought about how other people must feel and what would happen if something like this were to happen to me or someone close to me,” says Platter.
For DMK employee Justine Platter, donating stem cells was a matter close to her heart.
She is overjoyed that she was able to save someone’s life. An 18-yearold Canadian who was seriously ill responded positively to her stem cell donation and is now well again. Her “genetic twin” also happens to be called Justin. “After two years of being anonymous, we got in touch and even talked on Skype. Maybe one day we can meet in person.” Her willingness to be a donor gave the story a happy ending.
Justin, 20, from Canada beat leukemia thanks to Justine Platter.
Stefan Dahlenburg, a DMK employee from the Zeven plant, is also hoping to rescue someone. A father of three, he met a boy with leukemia from a town nearby. He has been tested and can donate stem cells, and although he isn’t able to help the boy, he can help someone else who’s a genetic match.
Stefan Dahlenburg from Zeven also wants to donate stem cells to help someone.
Once a suitable donor is found, a medical examination is carried out three or four weeks before the actual donation is made. Stem cells come from blood taken from a donor’s veins. Before that, the donor receives four days’ treatment to increase the amount of stem cells in their blood. Each day, they are given two injections under the skin with G-CSF, a growth factor the body also naturally produces to fight infections. Donors do not need to stay in a hospital, and the process does not require surgery or an anesthetic.
How you can become a donor: In Germany, go to the dkms.de homepage or visit your country’s blood donation service to see how and where you can become a donor.