I hope you will indulge me if from time to time I write about some cancer-related subjects, particularly leukemia and bone marrow donation. This morning, I was struck by an article in the sports section of the New York Times, “At Yale, A Fight To Help A Teammate.” It tells the story of Yale University hockey player, Mandi Schwartz, who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, and her teammates valiant efforts to find a donor.
Mandi has the same disease, acute myeloid leukemia, that I have. Like me, er cancer went into remission after the initial chemotherapy regimen but after awhile returned. I was very lucky to have been able to find a bone marrow match, but the article describes how to date doctors have been unable to locate a suitable donor for Mandi:
That is where her teammates and friends come in. Finding a perfect bone-marrow match is essential, because even a “9-out-of-10” match can cause life-threatening complications, said Dr. Tedd Collins, a New Haven-based clinical immunologist who is trying to find Schwartz a donor.
More than 1,600 people got their cheeks swabbed at bone-marrow drives held at Yale the past two springs, but no one was a match for Schwartz. Additional drives have been held or are planned for eight Canadian cities this summer.
Schwartz’s friends and family are also trying to collect umbilical cord blood, which Collins said was preferable to a bone-marrow transplant because the match does not need to be as precise.
“We have basically a one-week mission,” said Yale’s leading goal-scorer, Bray Ketchum, who was among several teammates who spent this past week calling obstetricians around the country on Schwartz’s behalf. “No one is holding back.”
To learn more about the Mandi Schwartz donation effort, go to www. becomemandishero.org. For more information on becoming a bone marrow donor and nearby donation registry drives, the website of the National Marrow Donor Program can be found here. It is not hugely difficult or painful, and registering involved only a swab inside your cheek. Thank you.