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Bulldogs Aim to Keep Saving Lives with Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Drive

Bulldogs Aim to Keep Saving Lives with Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Drive

Drive Open to Public, Could Help Save Lives 


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

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In its first three years, the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale has added nearly 2,500 people to the Be The Match Registry® and located at least six genetic matches for patients with life-threatening illnesses in need of transplants. This Thursday at Commons, Yale hopes to keep adding to those numbers. The football, women's ice hockey and field hockey teams are once again leading the drive, which is named in memory of women's ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz '10 (Wilcox, Sask.) (1988-2011) and her courageous battle with cancer.

The Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration 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. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yale's Commons on the corner of College Street and Grove Street in New Haven. It is open to the general public. Donors that could help save lives are located through testing that consists of simple cheek swabs.

Yale Athletics has held drives each of the past three springs, ever since Mandi was first diagnosed with cancer (acute myeloid leukemia) in December of 2008. Among the six confirmed matches found through Yale's record-setting drives is junior field hockey player Lexy Adams (Lancaster, Pa.), who donated to a patient with cancer in December 2010.

Yale's drives were led by the football team and women's ice hockey team each of the first two years. Last year, the field hockey team began assisting those two teams with the drive. The members of each team have two straightforward tasks:

  • Team members are spreading the word about the need for donors to their classmates, friends and relatives.
  • On the day of the drive, team members will volunteer at the various stations set up to assist potential donors with the registration process.

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. Food will be served.  

Mandi's story has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the Yale drives. In September 2010 she required a stem cell transplant that was designed to give her a new immune system using two anonymously donated units of umbilical cord blood. A biopsy in December 2010 indicated that she had relapsed, and she passed away at home in Saskatchewan on Apr. 3, 2011 at the age of 23.

Mandi's plight shed further light on the needs of cancer patients everywhere, and the value of marrow donation. 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 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.

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 and relatives who have not registered and encourage them to take part in this year's drive.

Yale's drives are part of the "Get in the Game. Save a Life." program, which started in 1992 at Villanova under the guidance of head football coach Andy Talley. That program, involving college athletic teams organizing drives on their campuses, has resulted in tens of thousands of potential donors being tested. Larry Ciotti, an assistant football coach at Yale and former head coach at Hand High School in Madison, Conn., is a friend of Talley's and brought the idea to Yale.

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 three years, Yale has registered more potential donors than any other school in the program.

Yale's year-by-year performance:

  • 704 registrants in 2009, and at least three donors so far
  • 921 registrants in 2010, and at least one donor so far
  • 869 registrants in 2011, and at least two donors so far

There are now more than 9.5 million people and nearly 165,000 umbilical cord blood units in the Be The Match Registry®, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world. Since the registry began operations in 1987, it has facilitated more than 50,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, it facilitates more than 5,500 transplants a year.

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

Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale:


Be The Match Registry®:

Mandi Schwartz:

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity