The efforts to find a marrow or cord blood donor for Yale player Mandi Schwartz, who is battling leukemia, are intensifying.
Schwartz, 22, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008 during her junior season with the Bulldogs. She returned home to Wilcox, Saskatchewan, and underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
With the leukemia in remission, she returned to Yale in January to finish her junior year. Less than four months later, however, tests showed that the cancer had returned. She is again home in Canada undergoing chemotherapy.
Schwartz needs a stem cell transplant, which requires locating either a bone marrow or a cord blood donor.
Yale’s athletic department has done bone marrow testing drives in the last two years, leading to more than 1,600 people getting their cheeks swabbed to be added to the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match” registry.
There has been no perfect match found for Schwartz, and partially matched bone marrow cell transplants frequently result in a life-threatening graft-versus-host response.
Because of Schwartz’s ancestry, she is most likely to find a match from someone of German, Russian or Ukranian heritage.
A cord blood donation would have the same life-saving stem cells as bone marrow but partially matched cord blood stem cells rarely cause life-ending consequences. Doctors hope collecting cord blood from 100 to 200 babies with any combination of German, Russian or Ukranian heritage in the next two months will provide a realistic chance of finding suitable donors.
Yale has put together a list of resources on the Internet to help get the word out to find a perfect match:
• Read more about Mandi and what is being done to help her at www.yalebulldogs.com/mandi/index.
• E-mail info@BecomeMandisHero.org with questions.
• On Facebook, join the “Become Mandi’s Hero” group, use your status to help promote the cause or send a link to any couples expecting babies who may be interested in helping by following the links.
• For information on signing up to be a cord blood donor, go to bit.ly/MandiCard.