Robin Roberts marks 10 years since lifesaving bone marrow transplant: How to become a donor with Be The Match
Robin Roberts is no stranger to adversity. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and five years later with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow. Luckily, her sister Sally-Ann was a virtually perfect match and she underwent a successful bone marrow transplant on September 20, 2012.
When Roberts returned to her “Good Morning America” family on February 20, 2013, she was empowered to mess up her message. She shared intimate details of her life-threatening illness, which were documented in the Peabody Award-winning ABC News special “Robin’s Journey,” to educate and inform millions and potentially save thousands of lives.
HOW TO BECOME A BONE MARROW DONOR: Be The Match
For the past decade, Roberts and “GMA” have continued to report extensively on blood stem cell transplants, which can be used to cure or treat more than 75 different diseases, and raised awareness of the importance of the Be The Match registry, a non-profit organization funded by the National Marrow Donor Program, which manages the world’s largest bone marrow donor registry.
To continue raising awareness of the Bone Marrow Registry, GMA is partnering with Be The Match on our One Match, Second Chance series September 20-February 20 to further raise awareness and save lives. Learn how to take the first step to sign up as a donor today.
According to Be the Match, at least 26,812 people have been enrolled in the bone marrow registry over the years, and 140 people have received a life-saving bone marrow donation over the years thanks to that coverage.
While Roberts had a perfect match in her own family, approximately 70% of patients do not have a matched donor in their family and must turn to registries such as Be The Match for their cure. A patient’s chance of having a matched, available donor in the Be The Match registry ranges from 29% to 79%, depending on the patient’s ethnic background.
Now the need is more pressing than ever, and the stats are staggering. Be The Match reports that regional and national recruiting efforts fell 36% during the peak of the pandemic. Be The Match also reports that only 50% of people on the registry donate when they are a match for a patient in need. Be The Match has specifically targeted younger donors under the age of 40, as research has shown that younger donors help improve overall patient outcomes.
Stay tuned for more stories about life-saving bone marrow donations and transplants and ways you can make a difference.
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