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Schwartz receives stem cell transplant

by Mike G. Morreale /
Mandi Schwartz, sister of 2010 St. Louis Blues' first-round draft choice Jaden Schwartz, finally has received the stem cell transplant she requires in an effort to beat the cancer that has been destroying her bone marrow since December, 2008.

According to, the 32-minute procedure took place Wednesday afternoon at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's inpatient transplant unit at the University of Washington Medical Center.

The next phase in her recovery is "engraftment", during which the transplanted stem cells begin to grow in her bone marrow and manufacture new blood cells and immune cells. The stem cells, taken from two umbilical cord blood units donated anonymously, were placed into her body via a vein. The procedure should help establish Schwartz' new immune system and should occur within a month. The hope is Wednesday's procedure will put an end to her bout with acute myeloid leukemia -- a type of cancer that starts inside the bone marrow and grows from cells that would normally turn into white blood cells within the immune system.

The transplant capped a busy 10 days for Schwartz and her family. Until receiving the results of a biopsy on Sept. 13, it remained unclear whether Schwartz would be cleared for the transplant. She had been battling a series of infections, but biopsy results indicated she remained in remission and doctors acted quickly to begin her conditioning for the procedure. The radiation treatment began Sept. 14 and was followed by chemotherapy.

Complete recovery of a new immune system takes approximately a year and maybe longer depending on any complications as a result of the transplant. Schwartz will be monitored closely through blood tests to confirm that new blood cells are being produced. She'll spend several months in Seattle before she can return home to Saskatchewan.

Prior to the transplant, Schwartz wrote the following message to her Yale women's ice hockey teammates, who have been extremely active in her support.

"I'm praying every day for everything to work out, and I know you all are thinking about me and praying for me," she wrote. "Thank you very much. Your support means the world to me. I think about the team, your workouts, the busy school day, and the beautiful feeling of stepping out onto that ice every day."

Schwartz was first diagnosed with cancer just days after assisting the Yale women's hockey team to a 4-1 win over Brown back in 2008. Since then, she has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy in an attempt to put the cancer back in remission.

The original stem cell transplant, schedule Aug. 19, has to be put on hold after it was determined Schwartz' cancer had returned. After being discharged from the hospital on Aug. 19 following another round of chemotherapy, Mandi returned to the University of Washington Medical Center for further tests.

Jaden Schwartz, who will join his brother at Colorado College this fall, was the leading scorer in the United States Hockey League with the Tri-City Storm this past season, notching 83 points (33 goals) in 60 games. He became the youngest player to lead the league in scoring since 1982-83 and his output was the highest point total since Thomas Vanek in 2001-02.

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