When a lifesaving bone marrow donation needed to get from Germany to Ukraine, DHL was able to step in, despite the coronavirus crisis, and deliver in time for the transplant.

Bone marrow transplants are never a last minute decision. The process takes months of planning and careful coordination and scheduling between all parties involved. This was the case with a bone marrow donation for a one-year-old Ukrainian boy in Kyiv.  

The original plan was for a Ukraine Bone Marrow Registry representative to personally travel to Hamburg in Germany and take the donation, in a temperature controlled bag, on a commercial flight from Hamburg to Kyiv on March 31, to arrive in time for the transplant operation on April 1.

All commercial flights canceled

But then the Ukrainian government suspended all passenger air travel from Monday, March 30, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

There was only one flight available that could get the bone marrow to Kyiv on time: with DHL via Leipzig Hub in Germany.

The Ukraine Ministry of Health contacted Vadim Sidoruk, the DHL Express Ukraine Country Manager, to ask if DHL could help. But there was one important condition:  the bone marrow had to be hand-delivered at each and every stage of the journey.

The first operation of its kind

"It wasn't just a life-saving operation for a very sick child," says Sidoruk. "It's also the first time this kind of operation has ever been carried out in Ukraine.

The first challenge was to help the donor registry in Hamburg with the transport documents. They usually provide certificates to on-board couriers which is a lot simpler. Elio Curti, Vice President Network Control Group Europe and his team stepped in to help with the paperwork and also develop a plan that would guarantee on-time delivery to Kyiv.

The bone marrow harvest took place at 2 p.m. on March 31 in Hamburg. It was then taken by a courier from the clinic in Hamburg to the airport in Leipzig, where it was handed over to DHL.

A swift customs clearance

The transplant required special handling at the security check and was handed over to the crew captain onboard the aircraft. Once it landed in Ukraine, the donation was transferred, under bond, to the DHL Kyiv Gateway.

There, a special van was waiting to transfer the shipment to the City Gateway some 40 km from the airport. The bone marrow donation then had to go through customs clearance on the Ukraine side which was completed within minutes thanks to prior arrangements with customs.

Delivered on the dot

The shipment was handed to Dr. Roman Kutz, Head of the Ukraine Bone Marrow Registry, at 10 a.m. on the dot – just 24 hours after it left Hamburg.

Dr. Kutz said afterwards, “DHL did an amazing job and there are no words to describe how much all the efforts are appreciated. If this delivery had not taken place it would have greatly reduced this little boy’s chances of survival.”

It takes two to three months for this kind of transplant to be deemed successful. So far, the little boy is doing well and the team at DHL Express proved that working 'As One' really can save lives.

Latest on our little hero Nazar

Now with over two months after the transplant operation has taken place the control results are very good and the general condition of the little patient is normal -  to the greatest of joys of his parents and everyone involved in the story of the one year old who starts his life journey with a fight for one. His current condition allows to be moved to an outpatient department with the hope that he will be able to spend most of the time outside from the hospital.

Last but not least…

If you have expressed a desire to become a potential bone marrow donor, then first read the information about who may be the donor.


The next step is to fill in the form to receive a test set.


After receiving the test set (by post) please read instructions how to take swabs and informed consent in detail, they will be in an envelope.

There is a video tutorial on using the test set -https://www.facebook.com/ubmdr/videos/703765443347686/

If there will be any questions – you can always ask for information in private messages, or by email ubmdregistry@gmail.com

The analysis of each donor is quite valuable for the registry (the registry pays the laboratory 40 euros for each analysis), so if you have a desire to donate funds to the activities of the registry this will be very much appreciated. Please donate to account: Ukrainian registry of bone marrow donors EDRPOU 41961160, MFO 338783 PJSC CB PRIVATBANK, IBAN Code №563387830000026000055123973       

Card number (charity Fund in the name of the Chairman-Kuts Roman) PrivatBank-5169330512576833

USUBC NOTE: DHL is a long-time member of U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) www.USUBC.org.