Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Sergio Giralt, Chief of the Adult Bone Marrow Transplantation Service, joined Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts on the show today to celebrate the launch of her new memoir, Everybody’s Got Something (Grand Central Publishing). In the memoir, Ms. Roberts, a patient of Dr. Giralt’s, chronicles her journey from Mississippi native to national news personality and her battles with breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
On the program, Dr. Giralt and Ms. Roberts discussed the stem cell transplant she received at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the fall of 2012 as part of her treatment. After being hospitalized for several weeks following the transplant and then closely monitored as an outpatient by her team, Ms. Roberts was able to return to work five months later.
Dr. Giralt and Ms. Roberts also talked about the importance of bone marrow donations. “People need to realize that there are 70 diseases, including leukemia and MDS, where bone marrow transplant is a possible cure,” Ms. Roberts said.
Dr. Giralt praised the foresight of the federal government for establishing a national registry of volunteer bone marrow donors in the 1980s. “African-Americans and [other] minorities are still underrepresented in that registry, and we need more and more,” he said. “But even for people who don’t have donors, there’s cord blood transplant, and more recently there’s mismatched transplants.”
Ms. Roberts has been particularly vocal in her gratitude to Dr. Giralt and his team for giving her the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial that is 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.
In June 2013, Dr. Giralt was honored at The Bone Marrow Foundation’s biannual Be a Lifeline Gala. Ms. Roberts presented Dr. Giralt with the Foundation’s inaugural Dr. E. Donnall Thomas Award.
For more information about stem cell transplantation — and to find out how you can become a donor — take a look at a Q&A from our Adult Marrow Transplantation Service.