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Yale Names Marrow Donor Registry Drive in Honor of Mandi Schwartz

Yale Names Marrow Donor Registry Drive in Honor of Mandi Schwartz

Drive Apr. 21 Open to Public, Could Help Save Lives


Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registry Drive at Yale
Part of the "Get in the Game. Save a Life." Program for the Be The Match Registry®

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In recognition of the impact her courageous battle with cancer has had on efforts to save lives through marrow donor registry drives, the Yale athletic department has named its annual drive in honor of women's ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.). The Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registry Drive at Yale, which is part of the nationwide "Get in the Game. Save a Life." campaign for the Be The Match Registry®, will be held on Thursday, Apr. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this year. The drive, which takes place at Commons on the corner of College Street and Grove Street in New Haven, is open to the general public. Food will be served.

The Yale athletic department has held drives each of the past two springs, ever since Mandi was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December of 2008. Yale's record-setting drives have added more than 1,600 potential donors to the Be The Match Registry®, and at least five life-saving genetic matches for patients in need have been located through the Bulldogs' efforts. That includes Yale sophomore field hockey player Lexy Adams (Lancaster, Pa.), who donated stem cells to help save the life of a patient with cancer this past December.

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 umbilical 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 genetic match to save their life. Donors are located through testing that consists of simple cheek swabs.

Yale's drives have been led by the football team and women's ice hockey team each of the first two years. This year, the field hockey team is also assisting with the drive. Members of all three teams are spreading the word about the need for donors to their friends, classmates and relatives. On the day of the drive, they will volunteer at the various stations set up to assist potential donors with the registration process.

Mandi's story has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the Yale drives. This past September she required a stem cell transplant, performed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, that was designed to give her a new immune system using stem cells from two anonymously donated units of umbilical cord blood. A biopsy in December indicated that she has relapsed, and she is now back home with her family. Her younger brothers, Jaden and Rylan, play for Colorado College. Jaden was a first-round draft pick of the NHL's St. Louis Blues last summer.

In addition to the three Yale teams, the drive is also scheduled to include appearances by Yale's live bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan, and Yale's costumed mascot, Boola. Further details about the plans for the day will be announced at a later date.

To join the Be The Match Registry®, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet certain health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. The donor test consists of simple cheek swabs and will only take approximately 15 minutes.

Those who registered at previous drives are already in the registry, so there is no need for them to be registered again. Yale is seeking to add as many NEW potential donors as possible, so those who registered at previous drives are asked to find friends who have not registered and encourage them to take part in this year's drive.

The "Get in the Game. Save a Life." program started in 1992 at Villanova under the guidance of head football coach Andy Talley and has resulted in more than 20,000 potential donors being tested. Larry Ciotti, a long-time 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.

Talley recently partnered with the Be The Match Registry® to take his efforts to the national level. He has received commitments from dozens of college football programs. In each of the past two years, Yale has registered more potential donors than any other school in the program. That included 704 registrants in 2009 and 921 registrants in 2010.

There are now more than nine million people and nearly 145,000 umbilical cord blood units in the Be The Match Registry®. Since the registry began operations in 1987, it has facilitated more than 43,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, it facilitates more than 5,200 transplants a year.

Those interested in helping with the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registry Drive at Yale can contact Larry Ciotti with the Yale football team at or (203) 671-9805.



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