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Blues' Schwartz on Yale donor drive honoring sister

Mandi Schwartz died in 2011 from acute myeloid leukemia

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- On Tuesday, Jaden Schwartz will be trying to help his St. Louis Blues to a 3-1 lead in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series, after he scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 on Sunday. He will be hoping that he and his teammates can send the Blues back to St. Louis with just one game to win to move into the second round.

His parents will not be in attendance.

Instead, Carol and Rick Schwartz will be at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., for the first time in about two years. It is a place that is incredibly special to the family, but one that is also difficult for them. It was, once, the home of Schwartz's sister Mandi, before she died on April 3, 2011, from acute myeloid leukemia.

But they are returning this week. On Wednesday, the school will host the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive, an annual part of the Yale Day of Service led by the field hockey, football, and women's ice hockey teams, the latter of which Mandi Schwartz played on while she attended Yale. Carol and Rick Schwartz will be on hand to personally thank the teams and the organization responsible.

"Obviously, it means a lot, it has a special meaning to us," Jaden Schwartz told on Monday. "Any time I hear the word 'Yale,' it has a special meaning. They did a lot for our family and a lot for Mandi. They continue to do a lot of things in her name.

"My parents haven't been down there a whole lot since she finished going to school there, but I know they enjoy it. It's kind of tough on them, but good for them to get down there too. It brings back a lot of memories."

Mandi Schwartz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008. She went through five rounds of chemotherapy and eventually returned to Yale in January 2010. But three months later, she learned the cancer had returned. Though she was never able to find a donor match for a stem-cell transplant, she did undergo a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood that September.

Again, the cancer returned. Mandi Schwartz died at age 23.

"Before she got sick, we didn't really know a whole lot about what you can do and different things you can help out with just by signing up, seeing what kind of blood you have and seeing if you can be a match, different things like that," Jaden Schwartz said. "I didn't really have any information about that or exactly what it was, so if you can get it out to more people that don't know, that's important.

"There have been a lot of matches since they've been doing different drives for Mandi. They've found matches that were used on other people to save them, people who need it. We kind of rushed into it, we had a couple years, not even, to try and find a match. If you can do this ahead of time, then obviously that goes a long way. It's pretty important, and we like that Mandi can still impact people. My parents always talk about it's more about helping out other families, to make sure that they don't have to go through the same thing."

According to the Yale Day of Service organization, the drives at the school have added 5,299 people to the Be The Match registry. That number includes a record 921 in 2010. Yale reported that "32 life-saving matches for patients in need have been located through these efforts."

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