Updated: Friday, 28 May 2010, 3:54 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 27 May 2010, 9:51 PM EDT
New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - A Yale athlete is in a life or death battle fighting cancer and she's hoping there's a woman out there who can become her hero.
Now there's a world wide call to pregnant women to donate their babies' cord blood and help save Mandi's life.
Schwartz is number 17 and plays center for the Yale Women's Hockey Team. But the 22-year old is also battling leukemia. Just a few months ago, Mandi spoke with News 8
about the importance of a bone marrow drive. "Still its important to me because if I ever relapse, I would need a transplant and I would have to use whatever donor I could find," explained Schwartz.
Schwartz's leukemia has since relapsed and has taken a terrible turn. "Its never fun to go through injuries, never mind illnesses like this," said fellow player Hillary Witt. "I worry about other members of the team and I worry about Mandi and her family. We just pray to God that she is going to get through this."
With time so precious, there's a global call to save Mandi's life. Yale Cancer Researcher Dr. Tedd Collins is behind it. He heads up 'Become My Hero,' an organization coordinating an international effort to encourage pregnant women who are about to give birth to donate their babies' cord blood. "The intent of 'Become My Hero' is to find cord blood donors for people who are in imminent danger of dying because they don't have a bone marrow donor," said Tedd Collins the Founder of the organization.
Mandi is Ukrainian, Russian and German which makes it difficult to find a bone marrow match. However, a cord blood match with women of similar background will help Mandi survive. "People like Mandi who are hard to match, who can only find a partially match bone marrow donor, are really great candidates for cord blood because they can get that and it doesn't have to be perfectly matched," explained Collins.
The Yale community is doing what it can to tell Mandi's story in hopes someone that hears it can help. "We're basically encouraging people to either find out if they are a match yourself, or if they are not a match, we want them to see if they can help us find someone who is," said Sam Rubin the spokesman for the Yale Women's Hockey Team.
Mandi is back in Canada spending time with family. Even though Mandi's fighting for her life she says she will never lose hope. "Never lose heart, thats kinda what I always thought while I was in the hospital," said Schwartz. "I never gave up and always believed I would get better and always believe in positive things."
Donating cord blood is simple. The cord blood is taken from the umbilical cord after a baby is born. If you're not a match for Mandi, you could be a match for someone else. For more information on how to become Mandi's hero go to BecomeMandisHero.org or call 1-800-869-8608.