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GMA anchor's illness helps marrow transplant awareness

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Posted: Jun 22, 2012 5:59 PM by Olivia LaBorde
Updated: Jun 22, 2012 5:59 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: GMA, anchor, illness, marrow, transplant, awareness, health, robin roberts, louisiana, donor

BATON ROUGE- ABC morning anchor Robin Robert's fight against a rare blood disease is just getting started.

The Louisiana native announced earlier this month that part of her treatment will include a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Doctors say it will greatly improve her chances to beat the disease. But most other African Americans aren't so lucky.

Sir Terrance Mack is a prime example. The 9 year-old suffers from a rare form of T-Cell Lyphoma. Doctors say he's only chance of beating the disease is with a bone marrow transplant.

His mother Wadell Hays says, "It is very rare. It's not even known to be in Black-African Americans."

News 2 spoke to Dr David Hanson, Medical director of the Cancer Program at Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins.

"Far less African Americans and other minorities donate their bone marrow than Caucasians," he said.

The National Registery has 10 million potential donors, but only 7 percent are African American.

Dr. Hanson says, "Certain races may have tissue types that are characteristic of that race."

That why it's so hard for patients like Sir Terrance to find a match. But since Roberts revealed she's getting a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Dr. Hanson says he's been getting calls left and right from African American patients asking about her treatment.

"Folks want to know how they can help out," he said.

If you're interested in becoming a donor, contact Lifeshare Bloodcenter (225) 383-7728.

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