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Lifesaving Commerce Katharina Harf's management savvy and some celebrity assists help her nonprofit donor center perform like a business.

By Gwen Moran Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Katharina Harf
Katharina Harf
Photo© Natalie Brasington
Number of DKMS-registered donors internationally since 1991: 2.2 million

Number of DKMS-facilitated transplants internationally since 1991: 22,000

Katharina Harf's biggest heartbreak occurred when she was a 14-year-old living in Frankfurt, Germany. Her mother, Mechtild, had been diagnosed the previous year with acute leukemia. Despite Mechtild's six siblings and the roughly 3,000 registered bone marrow donors in Germany at the time, none was a match for a transplant. Harf's mother died in 1991.

Harf's father, Peter Harf, chairman of cosmetics giant Coty Inc., started a donor recruitment center after his wife's diagnosis. The center, DKMS--which stands for Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei, meaning German bone marrow donor center--attracted 68,000 donors within a year.

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