Marrow Donor Testing Drive to be featured on WTNH Saturday Morning

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Yale football and women's ice hockey team members assemble donor testing kits in advance of the marrow donor testing drive on Apr. 22, 2010. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The countdown is on for the marrow donor testing drive that the Yale football and women’s ice hockey teams will lead on Thursday, Apr. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Commons. In the spirit of breaking the record Yale established last year, when more than 700 potential life-saving donors signed up, the Bulldogs are taking an even more proactive approach this year. Last week, after an introductory meeting with an official from the National Marrow Donor Program and a speech from a recipient whose life was saved by a marrow donor, members of both teams stuck around Ray Tompkins House to pre-assemble hundreds of donor kits. That will save valuable time for everyone on the day of the drive itself. This Saturday, Yale women’s ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz, a leukemia survivor, is scheduled to appear on New Channel 8 WTNH’s “Good Morning Connecticut Weekend” at approximately 6:30 a.m.

The drive is free, open to the public and includes pizza and light lunch refreshments. News Channel 8 anchor Ann Nyberg will be on hand at the start of the drive to greet participants. The drive is part of the “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” campaign for the National Marrow Donor Program. Thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases depend on the NMDP’s Be The Match Registry to find a match. The testing consists of a simple cheek swab.

In addition to Nyberg, the drive will also include appearances by Yale’s live bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan, and Yale’s costumed mascot, Boola. Tom Williams, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football, will be on hand, as will 2010 Yale football captain Tom McCarthy (Chester, N.J.). Further details about the plans for the day will be announced shortly.

To join the registry, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet the health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. The donor test consists of a simple cheek swab. No blood or needles are involved and the test will only take approximately 15 minutes. There is no cost to be tested. Individuals will become a member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Be The Match Registry.

Those who took part in last year’s drive are already in the registry, so there is no need for them to be tested again. Yale is seeking to add as many new donors as possible, so those who were tested at last year’s drive are encouraged to find friends who did not get tested last year and encourage them to take part in this year’s drive.

Every year, thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of people do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry® to find a match to save their life.

The “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” program started in 1992 at Villanova under the guidance of head football coach Andy Talley. Larry Ciotti, an 18-year assistant coach at Yale, is a friend of Talley’s and brought the idea to Tom Williams, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Football. The Yale football team held its first drive in April of 2009, with help from the women’s ice hockey team since Schwartz had been diagnosed with leukemia in December of 2008. After intensive chemotherapy back home in Canada, Schwartz returned to Yale this semester and is now able to help out with the drive in person. She practiced with the hockey team in the second half of the season and will return to play in 2010-11.

The “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” program has resulted in more than 11,500 potential donors being tested, including Villanova football player Joe Marcoux, who wound up being a match after taking part in a marrow donor testing drive in the spring of 2006. Marcoux donated blood-forming cells to a patient in need that December. Additionally, Villanova wide receiver Matt Szczur recently donated to a 1-year old girl with leukemia.

Talley has recently partnered with the National Marrow Donor Program to take his efforts to the national level. He received commitments from nearly 30 college football programs, including Yale, last year. That resulted in 8,022 people being entered into the national registry. Yale screened more than 700 potential donors, including two who wound up being a match.

There are eight million people who are registered on the Be The Match Registry. Since the registry began operations in 1987, it has facilitated more than 38,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, it facilitates more than 4,800 transplants a year.

Those interested in participating in the Yale marrow donor testing drive can contact Larry Ciotti with the Yale football team at larry.ciotti@yale.edu or (203) 671-9805, or simply stop by Commons between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 22.

Yale University Athletics “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” Marrow Donor Registry Drive:

  • Thursday, Apr. 22, 2010
  • 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Yale University Commons, 168 Grove Street (corner of College Street and Grove Street)
  • New Haven, Conn.
  • 1-800-MARROW-2

 

For more information:

Members of the Yale football and Yale women's ice hockey teams listen to a marrow donor recipient in preparation for their marrow donor testing drive Apr. 22, 2010.

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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