It is with great sadness that the IIHF has learned of the passing of Mandi Schwartz, who died last Sunday at the age of 23 following a two and a half-year long battle with cancer.
Mandi played ice hockey with the Yale University women’s team until she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. An international campaign was conducted on her behalf in order to find her a matching donor for a stem cell transplant. While an exact matching donor was not found at first, other patients in need of the same treatment were able to find donors. She finally received a transplant last fall, however her cancer returned a few months later.
Her efforts to raise awareness of marrow and cord blood donor programs have had a hugely positive impact for people fighting against this disease. Following Mandi’s passing, Yale University has announced that it will continue her efforts through their annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registry Drive. In the last two years, the drive resulted in more than 1,600 people being be added to the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match” registry. Through the drive, at least five life-saving genetic matches for patients in need have been located. Just last year, a Yale sophomore field hockey player donated stem cells to help save the life of a patient with cancer.
Mandi’s hockey connections helped her in her campaign, which rallied hockey communities all over Canada and the United States to her cause. Born in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, Canada, she played forward for the Bulldogs and also attended Canadian women's team camps. Mandi is survived by fiancé Kaylem Prefontaine, father Rick, mother Carol and younger brothers Rylan and Jaden. Both Rylan, 21, and Jaden, 18, play for Colorado College and Jaden was drafted 14th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, most recently representing Canada at the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship in Buffalo, New York.