WASHINGTON -- Today, ABC Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts announced her return to the popular morning show following a medical leave of absence. Roberts was diagnosed last year with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, and received a bone marrow transplant to treat the blood disorder.
“I’m coming home,” Roberts told the ABC television audience this morning, referring to her “home” at the anchor desk. “We’re talking now a matter of weeks, not months.”
As Roberts prepares to return to work, a Georgetown physician is reminding people about the importance of registering to be a bone marrow donor.
“Robin Roberts was fortunate that her sister was an appropriate match, but many patients are not so fortunate,” says hematologist Catherine Broome, M.D., associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Patients often rely on the National Marrow Donor Registry to find an unrelated donor that is a good match for them.”
Broome says the more donors in the registry, the more likely every patient who needs a transplant will be able to get one with the best match possible.
“The closer the ‘match,’ the better the overall outcome for patients,” Broome says.
Broome, who treats patients at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, explains the similarities between bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
“The only difference is how the ‘bone marrow stem cells’ are obtained,” she says. “In a ‘stem cell’ transplant they are obtained through a procedure known as pheresis, where the donor's blood is passed through a machine to collect the ‘stem cells.’ In a ‘bone marrow’ transplant the ‘stem cells’ are obtained through a procedure known as bone marrow harvesting – a minor surgical procedure – and then the stem cells are infused into the patient.”
Broome says both procedures are safe to the donor.
“A transplant is an excellent treatment for MDS but can be associated with significant complications for some patients,” Broome explains. “As we move forward in the treatment of MDS, we continue to conduct research looking for treatments that are effective but have potentially fewer risks.”
Please contact the National Marrow Donor Program for information about becoming a donor.
Broome is available for an interview by contacting Karen Mallet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-514-9751.
About Georgetown University Medical Center?Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.