WWL-TV and Sally-Ann Roberts rally support for bone-marrow donor registry

Posted: June 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

WWL-TVs Sally-Ann Roberts talks about her sisters health battle. Watch Richard Ford on The Colbert Report. TV tweet of the day so far.

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When Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts announced June 11 that shed been diagnosed with a rare form of bone-marrow cancer MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome -- and would undergo chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant, her sister, WWL-TV anchor Sally-Ann Roberts, was cast in a key recovery role.

Sally-Ann Roberts, it turned out, was a perfect match to be a bone-marrow-cell donor for her sister. The New Orleans anchors medical contribution wont come for weeks or perhaps months, but shes already begun efforts to raise awareness of the need for donors.

Her station has launched a Perfect Match Supporting Sally-Ann & Robin page on its website, which now holds several stories on the topic, including a Wednesday (June 27) piece in which WWL staffers sign up to join a bone-marrow registry.

An informational and registration phone-bank, staffed by volunteers from organ- and bone-marrow-donation organizations, will operate from 6-9 p.m. Thursday (June 28), in coordination with the stations morning news block.

In a recent interview, Sally-Ann Roberts said her match is a real blessing, because only 25 percent of people who need a bone-marrow transplant actually find a match among their siblings.

She continued:

The majority of people who need a bone marrow donor have to go outside of their family in order to find one. Sometimes it's like a needle in a haystack, and that's why Robin wants to use this challenge that she's facing right now to try to bring attention to the national narrow donor registry. Millions of people are part of it. If a person -- man woman or child -- is in search of a bone marrow donor they can go to this registry and have a chance to find one. There are many, many people who have used the registry successfully.

The only problem is that minorities are underrepresented in the donor registry. Unlike organ donations, where it really doesn't matter what the ethnic background of an individual is for an organ donation, bone marrow for stem cells has to be aligned with the person's genetic makeup. And that's why if you're African American you will find a match with another African American. Native Americans, the same thing. So that's why every racial group needs to be represented in the marrow-donor registry. That's what were trying to do. Were trying to direct people to BeTheMatch.org. If they do, they'll get a packet in the mail and will be able to do a swab, just the inside of their cheek, and will get a self-addressed stamped envelope. They mail it back with the required information. They may get a phone call, they may never get a phone call. But people who have done so -- I've gone online to listen to some of their stories -- they feel so grateful that they were able to reach out and help another individual in need.

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WWL-TV and Sally-Ann Roberts rally support for bone-marrow donor registry

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