Yale students hope to save lives with marrow registry drive

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – It is as simple as swabbing the inside of your cheek. That simple act puts you on the bone marrow registry. A Yale hockey player died because she couldn’t find a match. Yale is honoring her memory by trying to save many more lives.

Yale student athletes from the football, field hockey and ice hockey teams are trying to run up the score. They are trying to sign up as many people as they can on the bone marrow registry.

“It’s been going for 9 years now, and each year we bring in over 600 people,” explained women’s ice hockey team captain Krista Yip-Chuck. “Our goal is always 1,000.”

Their opponent? Bone and blood cancer. Diseases like leukemia, which took the life of Yale ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz in 2011. This year, a well known name in Connecticut field hockey is joining the cause. Patsy Kamercia coached Haddam-Killingworth High School to 4 state championships. Last year, a routine blood test showed she had a rare disease.

“They have different kinds of cells in my bone marrow that are not maturing and it’s a form of bone cancer,” Kamercia said.

She needs a bone marrow transplant. Which means she needs a bone marrow donor. Her son is one possibility.

“He had his testing done last Friday at Sloan Kettering and we’re waiting for the results from his testing.”

The more people who are registered donors, the better the odds of finding a match. That is the whole idea of these drives called “Get in the Game”. It is very easy to register.

“You just do a quick cheek swab and that’s it – you’re in the registry for the rest of your life,” Yip-Chuck said.

Do that and you can potentially save someone like Jon DeCasanova. He is a student at Eastern Connecticut State University, and he had a form of blood cancer, too.

“Thankfully I’m here today,” DeCasanova said. “Now we continue to do these get in the game drives and campaign and Yale is just one of the schools, one of the many schools. I think there are 25 in New England.”

Today’s drive is going on until 5 p.m. in the Yale Commons. For more information, or to order a kit online, click here.

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