Mandi Schwartz is in a Seattle hospital preparing for a stem cell transplant – and that's very good news for the Saskatchewan hockey player.
Schwartz is battling acute myeloid leukemia and will undergo the transplant August 26 after a desperate search by her family and doctors for a stem cell donor finally paid off.
The 22-year-old from Wilcox was declared in remission in June, which bought her some time, but doctors informed the family she needed a transplant before September to survive.
"Her health is good and she is continuing to work on some strengthening to ensure she is in good condition for the transplant," Mandi's father Rick Schwartz said on the Yale Bulldogs website.
Schwartz played for Yale's hockey team and has also tried out for Canada's National Women's Under-22 Team. After she was diagnosed with cancer in December 2008, Schwartz was forced to take a year off school, travelling home to Wilcox to undergo multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
She was cleared to return to Yale in January to complete her junior year, but the cancer returned in April forcing her back into treatment.
Mandi's brother is Jaden Schwartz, the No. 14 pick in the 2010 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues. Her other brother Rylan plays for Colorado College.
The Schwartz family cast a wide net in its campaign – "Become Mandi's Hero" – to find an appropriate donor. More than 1,600 people were tested at bone-marrow drives at Yale the past two years, and a Facebook page has more than 5,000 followers. For more information, visit www.becomemyhero.org.
While an appropriate donor has been found for Mandi, her family says it will continue its crusade for donors.
"Cord blood donations and bone marrow registration still remain our family's top priorities," Rick Schwartz said. "Education and awareness about the world-wide need for donors benefits not just us but all patients in need of a transplant and there are many such patients."
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