In 1989, Prof. Shraga Goldmann and Dr. Carlheinz Müller began collecting the pseudonymized data of voluntary donors from blood banks around Germany. The aim of their pioneering work, based in Ulm, was to make the search for stem cell donors easier.
They developed a database for donor profiles and a computer program for selecting suitable donors from the database. Supported by the Stefan Morsch Foundation, this was the first step towards establishing a centralized stem cell donor registry for Germany.
During this early phase, the team in Ulm was already working with international registries such as the Dutch Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) initiative and the French European Donor Secretariat to expand its database – of 2,000 entries – and improve the electronic network between the databases. By 1991, the database had grown to almost 50,000 entries owing to the investment of German Cancer Aid in HLA-DR typing. Meanwhile, German stem cell donor centers had started active recruitment of voluntary donors. Hence, the foundation for the German stem cell donor system had been laid in the form of a central registry with international links.
At the end of 1991, the Germany Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) also began to encourage the donation of stem cells. For the donor search to be efficient, organizational structures for donation and transplantation had to be created in parallel to donor recruitment and typing. The preliminary efforts of the Ulm working group resulted in the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service of Baden-Württemberg of the time being commissioned to establish a nationwide stem cell donor registry containing pseudonymized donor data, and develop an effective donor search system. Consequently, the Central German Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ZKRD) was founded in May 1992.