Elis swab cheeks in record numbers

On Wednesday, a veritable mob of football players took over at the entrance to Commons and the Woosley Rotunda.

Bedecked in blue and white game jerseys, they worked in teams of two and three to recruit passersby for “Get in the Game, Save A Life,” a marrow-donor registration drive held in honor of Women’s Hockey Team member Mandi Schwartz ’10, who is fighting leukemia. Nearly 700 Yalies registered as marrow donors at the drive, which was organized by the Yale football and women’s hockey teams and is the first of its kind to be held at Yale. Nearly 100 more donors registered between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. than at any college drive in the campaign’s history, said Betty Kelly, a representative from the National Marrow Donor Program.

“So many people have come forth to register and to volunteer,” said Larry Ciotti, former assistant coach of the Yale football team for 18 years and co-organizer of the event. “It’s been terrific.”

He added that his goal for the day had been to register 500 donors — a target the organizers well surpassed. While the primary objective of the day was to get as many donors registered as possible, volunteers interviewed said a secondary goal was to register more donors than Harvard, which also held a marrow registration drive Wednesday afternoon.

“Our main expectation was to beat Harvard,” said football team member Brandon Scott ’10, who was running one of the registration tables. “But the ultimate goal is to save lives.”

By 2 p.m., an hour before the drive was scheduled to end, it was clear Yale had it in the bag: Yale had registered over 460 donors to Harvard’s 30, Kelly said.

“Get in the Game, Save A Life,” which was started in 1992 by Villanova football coach Andy Talley, pits university football teams against one another to see who can register the most donors in a one-day event. This year, 27 universities are involved with the program. Kelly said more people were registered at Yale’s drive on Wednesday than at any other she has helped run this year.

It was only when the recruitment efforts stopped — at 3 p.m., when the drive was over — that the line of donors, which at times was 25 to 30 minutes long, dwindled. Nevertheless, Elis, paperwork in hand, continued to wait to register as donors until half past three.

“I donate blood,” said Caled Rhoads ’10, who was waiting in line to swab for a cause. “This is just another way to help out — it really doesn’t take much from you, but could make a huge difference to someone else.”

While five of the six volunteers interviewed attributed the drive’s success in large part to the work of its volunteers and highly visible location, Kelly said a personal connection to the cause tends to generate the greatest involvement.

Yesterday’s event took just three weeks to plan, Ciotti said, adding that the football and women’s hockey team members volunteered at the drive.

To register, students had to be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet certain health requirements, and pledge to donate if a match arose. The process was non-invasive and involved a cheek swab.

Comments

  • Veritas

    Yale blood runs deep. So many people registered for a fellow Yalie they didn't know. Go Bulldogs!

  • Anonymous

    I'm so proud of you all! The National Marrow Donor program needs more people on their registry, especially people of African-American, Latino, and Asian ancestry. If selected as a donor, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
    -A recent donor and SOM '05

  • nony

    Don't mislead people: there is no requirement to donate bone marrow even if you are a perfect match for a patient. A donor can opt out at any point, even after his/her bone marrow or stem cells have been harvested. That being said, it is worth it to register because you never know how you will feel when you receive that call that you can potentially save a life.