Robin Roberts shares encouraging words with Gulfport teen

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of people stopped by Rectitude Lodge #323 in Gulfport on Saturday, where a bone marrow drive was taking place for 14-year-old Zayen Williams.

One of those people was a very special guest. Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts surprised the teen, who is living with aplastic anemia.

Zayen was diagnosed with the disease in 2015. It's a rare condition where the body stops producing enough new blood cells. None of Zayen's immediate family have been a match for his transplant, which is why Be the Match hosted a second drive.

When it comes to finding a marrow donor, Roberts knows the odds are stacked against patients.

"70 percent of the time you need the goodness of people walking through this door and putting themselves on the registry," said Roberts.

Zayen's mom, Zonetta Williams, is holding out hope they will soon find a donor for her son.

"It's really just testing and getting more people to join the registry to see if we can find a match, a half match, just something," said Williams.

Although a man of few words, Zayen was excited about meeting Roberts; knowing she's already gone through the process.

"It's been tough but I have a lot of support and everything," said Zayen.

That support now includes Roberts, who left him with an encouraging message.

"What I told Zayen is what I tell everyone. Everybody's got something. You've got to realize things are happening every day, advances are being made, and there have been great advances since the five years I have been diagnosed and had my bone marrow transplant. I just told him to hang in there," said Roberts.

Those who are unable to attend the drive, but would still like to register can sign up online at, referral code Zayen. Those who would like to contribute to his fundraiser can click here.

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