Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts returned to the program today for the first time after receiving a stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the fall of 2012 for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease that arises in the bone marrow due to a disorder of hematopoietic stem cells, the immature cells from which all blood cells develop.
“I am so full of gratitude,” Ms. Roberts said on the program. “There are so many people that I want to thank throughout the morning—my doctors and nurses and family and colleagues and people who have sat in this chair and those who have blazed the trail before me.”
As part of her treatment, Ms. Roberts was hospitalized for several weeks and is now being closely monitored and cared for as an outpatient by a team of doctors, nurses, and staff under the direction of Sergio A. Giralt, Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Adult Bone Marrow Transplantation Service.
Participating in a Clinical Trial
Ms. Roberts thanked Dr. Giralt, who appeared on the program with her, for giving her the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial investigating better ways to prevent graft-versus-host disease, a complication of transplantation in which the donor cells recognize the recipient’s cells as foreign and attack them.
Dr. Giralt expressed his appreciation for her participation in the trial. “The standard treatments of today are developing because patients before you participated in clinical trials, and in a certain sense it’s our obligation as physicians and the patients of today to develop the standards of care for the patients of tomorrow,” he said.
In addition to thanking Dr. Giralt, Ms. Roberts expressed her gratitude toward the members of her Memorial Sloan Kettering nursing team, who were also present in the studio.
“Looking over at the nurses, the technicians — the passion and compassion that you have for all of your patients is admirable,” she said. “And people have given me a standing ovation — we need to give these people a standing ovation.”
More about Stem Cell Transplantation
Nancie Simonet, who received a stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering, discusses how she balanced a rigorous treatment with family and managing a restaurant, before eventually getting her life back.
Learn more about Ms. Roberts’s ongoing journey – including the perspective of Dr. Giralt – in a special edition of the ABC television newsmagazine 20/20, airing on Friday, February 22, at 10:00 PM ET. In addition, Ms. Roberts’s experience with the disease and her treatment is featured in the cover story of the February 25 issue of People magazine.
To learn more about stem cell transplantation, read a Q&A with experts on our Adult Bone Marrow Transplantation Service about the procedure, the recovery process, and becoming a donor.
And, watch the story of Nancie Simonet, who received a stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Ms. Simonet and another one of our transplant recipients, Jennifer Jones Austin, were also featured on Good Morning America on February 18.