Marquette moved up three spots to No. 15 in the Associated Press poll Monday, but a leap in another ranking meant far more. Trey Schwab, an Golden Eagles assistant, moved into the top 10 on the list to receive the lung transplant that could save his life.
"I made a pretty substantial jump," Schwab said.
In October 2001, Schwab and Marquette Coach Tom Crean came down with what they thought was the flu or, worst case, pneumonia. Crean got better. Schwab didn't.
He was diagnosed a year ago with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease that obstructs the flow of oxygen. Doctors could not predict whether he would survive the wait for a transplant, which could take 18 months or longer. He had his gall bladder removed, was taking nearly a dozen prescription medications a day, along with injections of Actimmune, an experimental drug. His weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds.
Schwab fought back. He had lost more than 100 pounds by last fall and has become a spokesman for organ donation; both Marquette and the Minnesota Timberwolves, his previous employer, are participating in National Donor Day next Friday.
"Hopefully, that's the good that will come out of all of this," said Schwab, a one-time CBA assistant and NBA scout under Timberwolves Coach Flip Saunders. "If I can help raise awareness, I'm going to do everything I can."
Schwab, who coordinates Marquette's filmwork, travel and on-campus recruiting, is limited to eight- and nine-hour workdays. He has an oxygen tank nearby at all times and needs to be within a quick drive to University of Wisconsin Medical Center in Madison when a donor organ becomes available. His travel with the Golden Eagles will be limited as his name nears the top of the list.
"You try to make up for it, sleeping in the days after the games to make sure I don't get too run-down," Schwab said. "To me, giving up working never really entered into my mind. As long as I feel this way, it's not too much to handle."
Schwab said it has helped that the Golden Eagles (16-3, 8-1 Conference USA), who play No. 14 Wake Forest at home Sunday, are having such a fine season.
"It's good therapy," Schwab said. "I'm a worrisome, anal-about-the-details kind of guy, and if I didn't have a job to go to every day, I'd be pouring over the charts, the lists, the treatments, things out of my control, all the time. I'd be driving myself nuts."
-- Steve Argeris