My stem cell donation journey


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Dear Reader, We may not know each other, or we might have met beforehand at training or a tournament.

My name is Malte, and I am 25 years old. I live and study in Aachen, and I’ve been practicing Kendo since 2009. In 2013 I registered at the Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei, DKMS.

The goal of DKMS is to help people suffering from Leukemia (blood cancer) by finding them a compatible stem cell donor, thus giving them a second chance to live. The more people that are registered at DKMS, or your national stem cell donation organization, the higher the probability of a patient finding a fitting donor, or “genetic twin”.


In 2013 a DKMS team came to my school, accompanied by a former student. She told us the story of her donation and afterward gave us the opportunity to register. The process is very simple; a small cotton bud is put in your mouth, and that’s it. If you were to ever change your mind, you could always choose to have your data deleted, and there is no obligation to donate once you register.

For seven years I didn’t hear anything from DKMS, until last summer, July 2020, when I discovered I may be a fitting donor. I received a package with a whole lot of information and a kit for a drawing a blood sample. In December I received a call letting me know that my “genetic twin” was very sick, and I was asked if I was still willing to donate. It would have been easy to resign right there – but I didn’t.

In January I underwent an examination to ensure I was healthy enough to donate. The staff and volunteers gave their best effort to answer any kind of questions I had which really helped to ease my mind and made me feel taken care of. They simply did a great job! Four days before the donation, twice a day, I was required to inject myself with a stem cell enricher, which can be accompanied by mild headaches or pain in a limb, in my case the back.

The donation took place in Cologne. There were two needles/venipunctures set, right side to draw the blood, after which the stem cells are filtered out, and the left side to allow the blood to flow back in. The entire process takes several hours, but not to worry, during this time you can read, watch a movie, or listen to a podcast.

There was no part of the process which was annoying or a hinderance in anyway and if given the opportunity to donate again I would do so without hesitation. Anytime. If you now get the feeling that “giving someone a second chance to live sounds really easy” and want to join the fight against blood cancer, please register at your national organization. DKMS for example is established in:





United Kingdom:


I hope we can meet soon at a Kendo event. Best regards and thank you very much for reading

Malte Heinrichs, DJSG Köln e.V.

Foto 2: Ralf Blümel