Friends and family of a Saskatchewan woman battling a rare form of leukemia have turned to the social networking website Facebook in an effort to find a suitable match for a life-saving stem cell transplant.
Mandi Schwartz, 22, is in the Pasqua Hospital in Regina undergoing treatment.
"She has acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia," Carol Schartz, Mandi's mother, told CBC News in a recent interview. "She hasn't been off that bed in almost two weeks now. So that's a big fight."
As soon as she is strong enough, doctors hope to resume chemotherapy.
If the chemotherapy puts the cancer into remission, Schwartz will be a candidate for a stem cell transplant from a bone marrow donor. She might also receive another kind of stem cell treatment, involving blood cells harvested from the umbilical cord of a newborn.
A Facebook page, titled Become Mandi's Hero, was recently created in hopes that social networking might find a match for either procedure.
"The internet is a great way to inform people," Carol Schwartz said. The online campaign, launched with the help of friends, has already attracted over 1,700 supporters.
Caroline Murphy, a friend and classmate of Mandi Schwartz in university, said she hopes people reading about Mandi's condition are moved to help.
"People don't understand this is the last straw," Murphy said. "People who need a transplant and don't get it, that's it. Game over."
Carol Schwartz says her daughter is facing her condition with determination.
"She's realistic about the odds and the options and what's required," Schwartz said.
"It's Mandi," Murphy added. "If anyone is going to pull through, it's going to be her."
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