Bone marrow donor drive at Yale offers chance to save a life

The annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive will take place Thursday, April 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Cross Campus and at 367 Cedar St.

In recognition of the impact her courageous battle with cancer has had on efforts to save lives through marrow donor registration drives, the Yale athletic department is once again holding a drive in memory of women’s ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz ’10, who passed away in 2011. 

The Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale, which is part of the nationwide “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” campaign for Be The Match®, offers multiple ways for people to register for the chance to become a life-saving marrow donor:

The drive is open to anyone aged 18-60. Donors that could help save lives are located through testing that consists of simple cheek swabs, which will be sent in the mail after registrants complete the registration process.

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, long-time assistant football coach at Yale and former head coach at Hand High School in Madison, Connecticut, is a friend of Talley’s and brought the idea to Yale.

Talley has partnered with Be The Match® to take his efforts to the national level. He has received commitments from more than 125 college football programs. The Yale athletic department has held drives each of the past 10 springs, ever since Mandi was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December of 2008. Yale’s record-setting drives have added 7,154 potential donors to the Be The Match Registry®, and at least 58 life-saving donor matches for patients in need have been located through the Bulldogs’ efforts.

Yale’s drives were led by the football team and women’s ice hockey team each of the first two years. In 2011, the field hockey team began assisting. In 2018 the men’s soccer team joined these efforts. Members of the four teams help spread the word about the need for donors to their classmates, friends and relatives.

Mandi’s story has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the Yale drives. In September 2010 she required a blood 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.

Mandi’s younger brothers, Jaden and Rylan, play ice hockey as well. Jaden is with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and Rylan is with the Fischtown Penguins of DEL in Germany.

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 pass away unless they get a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of these patients do not have a fully matched 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®, an individual 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 Be The Match 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.

Those interested in helping with the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale can contact Larry Ciotti with the Yale football team at

More information on the Be The Match Registry®:

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