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Robin & Sally-Ann Roberts celebrate five years since transplant

Sally-Ann Roberts called the opportunity to save her sister Robin’s life by donating bone marrow cells for her transplant five years ago like “winning the Powerball.” Wednesday marked five years since Robin's transplant.
Robin Roberts & Sally-Ann Roberts on the set of GMA Wednesday. Courtesy ABC News.

Sally-Ann Roberts calls the opportunity to save her sister Robin’s life by donating bone marrow cells for her transplant five years ago today like “winning the Powerball.”

On Wednesday, Sally-Ann joined her sister Robin, Robin’s partner Amber Laign and other family members and colleagues on the set of “GMA” to mark Robin’s fifth “birthday” since the life-saving bone marrow cell transplant. As they have done since then, the sisters also encouraged the audience to sign up to become potential bone marrow and organ donors and save other's lives.

“It was five years ago today that I had my bone marrow transplant. That was after 10 consecutive days of chemotherapy to get me ready for the transplant,” Robin Roberts said on Wednesday’s program. “It was considered to be a rebirth and I definitely felt that I was getting another chance at life.”

Roberts needed to undergo the transplant after contracting a rare blood disorder, a side effect from her previous treatment for breast cancer. Footage aired on Wednesday recounted the journey she and her family and friends faced five years ago, as she underwent the transplant then remained in the hospital in isolation for 30 days in order for her immune system to rebound.

Sally-Ann joined Robin Roberts on set of GMA Wednesday to celebrate five years since her life-saving transplant.

“After five years, by the grace of God, Amber and my family, I am thriving, healthy, strong and eternally grateful for life,” Robin said Wednesday. She also reunited with the doctor who performed the transplant and shared the story of another successful donation involving a young boy.

“I am so grateful to Sally-Ann,” an emotional Robin said on GMA. “I cannot even get it together right now.”

Robin explained how fortunate she was that her sister Sally-Ann was a perfect match for her cells, which is a rarity for most patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.

“That only happens 30 percent of the time. So 70 percent of the time people need a transplant they aren’t fortunate enough like I was blessed to have this woman right here,” Robin said of Sally-Ann.

“There is nothing to be afraid of,” Sally-Ann said of the donation process. “It is easy, it did not hurt. And if you had the privilege of being a donor, just consider it winning the Powerball. There’s no award that can top seeing a life saved.”

GMA said that more than 18,000 people joined the National Bone Marrow Registry because of the Roberts sisters’ efforts over the past five years. And 173 people became donors, saving lives of transplant recipients.

For more information on signing up for the National Marrow Donor Program through Be the Match, click here.

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