MEDFORD, Ore. — On June 11, 2012, ABC’s “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts announced her diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (usually called MDS) on national television. It’s a blood disorder formerly known as pre-leukemia and Roberts said her best hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Sally Ann. In the three months since that announcement, more than 36,000 people have registered to become marrow donors, which is more than 50% increase from the average number of people who register.
The story of Robin Roberts has significant personal relevance to two young sisters in Southern Oregon. 11 years ago, Hanna Dawson was diagnosed with Hurlers Syndrome at just 18-months-old. Fortunately, her older sister, Morgan, was a match and was able to successfully donate her bone marrow to her sister. The video above tells their story.
As Roberts prepares for her bone marrow transplant, fans are showing their support by purchasing a “Prayer For Protection” wristband. All the proceeds will benefit the organization called “Be The Match,” it’s considered the global leader in providing bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants to patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other serious diseases. Supporters can purchase packs of five wristbands for $5 at shopbethematch.org. The wristband was designed by friends of Roberts after she received her diagnosis.
Becoming a registered bone marrow donor is simple: you can go to bethematch.org, or marrow.org, and sign up; they’ll send a kit right to your house, run a cotton swab on your cheek, send it back and you’re in. If you come up as a match, donating is easier now too. Donors are given a series of shots which bring the cells out of the bones into the circulation and they are collected from your blood.
Danielle Craig contributed to this report.