Robin Roberts is no stranger to facing adversity. She received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 and then a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow, five years later. Thankfully, 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 inspired to follow her mother’s advice and “make her mess her message” by sharing her story in the hopes of empowering others. She shared intimate details of her life-threatening disease, documented in the Peabody Award-winning ABC News special, "Robin’s Journey," to help educate and inform millions, as well as potentially save thousands of lives.
Over the past decade, Roberts and "GMA" have continued to report extensively about blood stem cell transplants, which can cure or treat more than 75 different diseases and spread awareness of the importance of the Be The Match registry, a nonprofit organization operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, which manages the world’s largest bone marrow donor registry.
While Roberts had a perfect match within her own family, approximately 70% of patients do not have a matching donor in their family and must turn to registries like Be The Match for their cure. A patient’s chance of having a matched, available donor on the Be The Match Registry ranges from 29% to 79%, depending on the patient's ethnic background.
To mark 10 years since Robin’s own bone marrow transplant and to help continue to raise awareness of the bone marrow registry, "GMA" partnered with Be The Match, our owned stations and ABC affiliates in our "One Match, Second Chance" series from September 20 through February 21. Learn how to take the first step to sign up to become a donor today.
Approximately 37,000 people have been added to the bone marrow registry and 140 people have gone on to receive a lifesaving bone marrow donation thanks to this reporting through the years and through our most recent campaign, according to Be The Match.
Now more than ever the need is urgent and the statistics are stunning. Be The Match reports regional and national recruitment efforts decreased 36% during the height of the pandemic. Be The Match also reports only 50% of people on the registry will go on to make a donation when they're a match for a patient in need. Be The Match has put a call out in particular for younger donors under the age of 40, as research has shown younger donors help improve overall outcomes for patients.