Yale Cancer Patient Mandi Schwartz's Dad 'Shocked' by Doctor's Secret Past

Meanwhile, Mandi Schwartz prepares for cord-blood transplant after donor found.

August 2, 2010, 9:29 PM

Aug. 3, 2010 — -- The father of a Yale University hockey player who needs a life-saving transplant said he was shocked to learn that a doctor leading a campaign to help his daughter and other cancer victims had a secret past filled with allegations of fraud.

"We had no idea, we had no way of knowing about these accusations," said Rick Schwartz, the father of Yale junior Mandi Schwartz.

It was Mandi Schwartz's fight against leukemia and her struggle to find a stem-cell donor that spurred Dr. Tedd Collins to establish two charities -- Become My Hero and Natasha's Place.

His work made him a public face of what has become an international effort to aid Mandi, an effort chronicled by ABC News, The New York Times and other news organizations.

But last week, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal launched an investigation of the charities after it was revealed that Collins has left a trail of investors around the country who allege he duped them out of large amounts of money in other ventures.

It was also revealed that one of those ventures is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service for possible fraud.

"We were pretty shocked," Rick Schwartz said of the allegations.

"At our end, we felt he was doing wonderful things for Mandi. Everything he did was for her. We told him so many times, 'We are so happy you are in our corner,' " Schwartz said.

He added, "I kind of feel for him because of all that he has been doing for Mandi."

After being stricken with leukemia 20 months ago, Mandi Schwartz needs the stem-cell transplant to survive. Friends and teammates have been working to get her one, seeking donors of bone marrow and umbilical cord blood to find a perfect match.

Collins plunged into the effort after his daughter Natasha, a promising medical student at Yale who knew Mandi, died last summer of leukemia.

Collins created Become My Hero, which helps patients find cord-blood donors. And he launched Natasha's Place, which promotes awareness of how cord-blood donation can help people of mixed heritage, for whom bone-marrow matches are hard to find.

The two charities had collected more than $10,000 before Blumenthal stepped in last week and ordered them to cease fundraising because they had not registered with the state.

The Schwartz family had no role in setting up the charities and has not received any of the money raised, Rick Schwartz said. But he said the money never was supposed to help pay for Mandi's care.

Collins' fundraising "was always going to cover the cost of everything he was doing. We were never involved in that," Rick Schwartz said.

Dr. Tedd Collins Calls Rick Schwartz: 'He Basically Apologized'

Schwartz said he received an e-mail from Collins after the allegations against the doctor became public last week.

"From what he wrote ... he was pretty choked up about it. He basically apologized for his past dealings and said it is not going to stop him from trying to help Mandi," Schwartz said.

"He still wants to work with us, and help Mandi. It's what helps him to keep on going on."

In an e-mail to ABC News last week, Collins wrote, "I can accept that my past may hurt the image of our accomplishments. I just want to have an opportunity to make sure that the things I've created to save lives will not be injured because people doubt my ability to handle money. What is created is far bigger than me."

He since has declined to comment.

Rick Schwartz said that he believes at least 75 cord-blood donors have stepped forward to help Mandi as a result of Collins' efforts. None of them, however, was a perfect match to help his daughter.

However, an acceptable match has been found through another donor, he said. Mandi is in Seattle, he said, in preparation for a cord-blood transplant scheduled for Aug. 26.

"She is scared, no question about it. You do not get out of this without any risks," he said.

"We feel optimistic that everything is going to work out for Mandi. She is such a strong girl. She is a good candidate to go in there and take this kind of procedure."