March 9, 2010

Marrow Donor Testing Drive Set for Thursday, Apr. 22 at Commons

Free Drive Open to Public, Could Help Save a Life

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale football team and Yale women’s ice hockey team will lead a marrow donor testing drive Thursday, Apr. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Commons, located on the corner of College Street and Grove Street in New Haven. The drive is free, open to the public and includes pizza and light lunch refreshments. News Channel 8 anchor Ann Nyberg will be on hand at the start of the drive to greet participants. The drive is part of the “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” campaign for the National Marrow Donor Program. Thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases depend on the NMDP’s Be The Match Registry to find a match. The testing, which consists of a simple cheek swab, has a special meaning for the Yale athletics department because Bulldog women’s ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.) is a leukemia survivor and is in need of a marrow donor.

In addition to Nyberg, the drive will also include appearances by Yale’s live bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan, and Yale’s costumed mascot, Boola. Tom Williams, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football, will be on hand, as will 2010 Yale football captain Tom McCarthy (Chester, N.J.). Further details about the plans for the day will be announced at a later date.

To join the registry, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet the health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. The donor test consists of a simple cheek swab. No blood or needles are involved and the test will only take approximately 15 minutes. There is no cost to be tested. Individuals will become a member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Be The Match Registry.

Those who took part in last year’s drive are already in the registry, so there is no need for them to be tested again. Yale is seeking to add as many new donors as possible, so those who were tested at last year’s drive are encouraged to find friends who did not get tested last year and encourage them to take part in this year’s drive.

Every year, thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of people do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry® to find a match to save their life. 

The “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” program started in 1992 at Villanova under the guidance of head football coach Andy Talley. Larry Ciotti, an 18-year assistant coach at Yale, is a friend of Talley’s and brought the idea to Tom Williams, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football. The Yale football team held its first drive in April of 2009, with help from the women’s ice hockey team since Schwartz had been diagnosed with leukemia in December of 2008. After intensive chemotherapy back home in Canada, Schwartz returned to Yale this semester and will now be able to help out with the drive in person. She practiced with the hockey team in the second half of the season and will return to play in 2010-11.

The “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” program has resulted in more than 11,500 potential donors being tested, including Villanova football player Joe Marcoux, who wound up being a match after taking part in a marrow donor testing drive in the spring of 2006. Marcoux donated blood-forming cells to a patient in need that December. Additionally, Villanova wide receiver Matt Szczur has been identified as a match for a 1-year old girl with leukemia and is scheduled to donate to her on Mar. 15.

Talley has recently partnered with the National Marrow Donor Program to take his efforts to the national level. He received commitments from nearly 30 college football programs, including Yale, last year. That resulted in 8,022 people being entered into the national registry. Yale screened more than 700 potential donors, including one who wound up being a match.

There are eight million people who are registered on the Be The Match Registry. Since the registry began operations in 1987, it has facilitated more than 38,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, it facilitates more than 4,800 transplants a year.

Those interested in participating in the Yale marrow donor testing drive can contact Larry Ciotti with the Yale football team at larry.ciotti@yale.edu or (203) 671-9805, or simply stop by Commons between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 22.

 

Yale University “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” Marrow Donor Registry Drive:

 

For more information:

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity