Newscaster Robin Roberts took a nearly six-month leave-of-absence from Good Morning America, known as GMA, between October 2012 and February 2013 to receive treatment for a rare bone marrow disease. The condition required a bone marrow transplant along with extensive recuperation time.
In 2012, Roberts was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, also known simply as MDS, a condition that gradually diminishes bone marrow's ability to produce healthy blood cells. The public announcement of Roberts' illness subsequently saw an upsurge in bone marrow donations, with the nonprofit Be the Match Registry documenting an 1,800 percent spike overall. Ultimately, Robert's found an ideal match in her sister, Sally Ann, whose bad habits Roberts later jokingly claimed she also received as a result of the transplant.
Though Roberts transplant was successful, the days and weeks following the procedure were still harrowing. Roberts later insisted that she felt near death during that period, as if she were slipping away. Roberts credited health care providers and fans with her final recovery, and also used the opportunity to publicly reveal her sexual orientation and long-time relationship with partner and massage therapist, Amber Laign. Roberts ultimately returned to GMA on February 20, 2013, to great applause, and was greeted with messages of support and congratulations from such figures as President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.