September 22nd, 2010 | Uncategorized

Schwartz receives stem cell transplant

Mandi Schwartz ’11 completed a crucial step in her battle with leukemia Wednesday afternoon.

The women’s hockey player received a long-awaited stem cell transplant at about 3:30 p.m. local time at the inpatient transplant unit of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the University of Washington Medical Center. The procedure took 32 minutes and there were no complications, said Dean Forbes, a spokesman for the cancer center.

Schwartz, a native of Saskatchewan, Canada has been in and out of chemotherapy for more than 20 months since first being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008. After months of searching for an adequate bone marrow or stem cell donor, two “five-out-of-six” stem cell matches were located and Schwartz’s transplant was slated for Aug. 27, as she was declared in remission on June 9. But the timeline changed when Schwartz learned on Aug. 11 that her cancer had returned for a third time.

On Aug. 31, Schwartz entered remission once again after completing additional chemotherapy. She underwent a daily pair of hour-long radiation sessions between Sept. 15 and 17, and had another two days of chemotherapy on Sunday and Monday to prepare for the transplant.

Now, with the procedure completed at last, Schwartz will wait to see if the stem cells engraft. Forbes said it will take about three weeks to determine whether the transplant was successful. Schwartz will remain in the hospital during that stretch of time because her immune system is still weak.

“While the engraftment is taking place, she basically has no immune system because her old marrow has been destroyed by radiation and therapy in preparation for the transplant,” Forbes said in a phone interview Wednesday night.

The transplant utilized stem cells from two anonymous umbilical cord blood unit donations to public cord blood banks.