A two-year-old girl with an extremely rare blood type is fighting for her life after she was diagnosed with cancer.
Two months ago, Zainab Mughal learned that she had developed an aggressive form of Neuroblastoma cancer, her dad Raheel Mughal told South Florida’s nonprofit organization OneBlood.
At the time, her parents believed that was the worst news they could hear — until doctors discovered that Zainab also had an extremely rare form of blood that makes transfusions very difficult.
According to Zainab’s medical team, her blood is missing a common antigen, which determines a person’s blood type, called “Indian B.”
Only people of the same Pakistani, Indian, or Iranian descent are likely to match with the South Florida toddler, but of those populations, less than four percent of the people are missing the “Indian B” antigen, OneBlood said.
In order for Zainab’s body to accept the blood, she must receive it from donors of the same ancestry, who are also missing the antigen and have blood type “O” or “A.”
After hearing the news, Zainab’s parents and relatives immediately donated their blood, her dad told the organization. To their dismay, the family learned that they all weren’t a match.
“That’s when it became more of an alert,” Raheel said in a video on OneBlood’s website, who has now teamed up with the family and the American Rare Donor Program (ARDP) to help Zainab in her worldwide blood search.
“We have a zero percent chance of finding compatible blood for this little girl if we look in pretty much any other ethnic group,” OneBlood lab manager Frieda Bright said in the video. “We are searching the world to try to find blood for this little girl.”
The cancer that Zainab is suffering from, which begins in very early stages of nerve cells, most often affects infants and young children, according to the American Cancer Society.
Sandra Nance, senior director of the ARDP, explained that OneBlood has tracked approximately 59 types of rare blood with more than 120,000 donors on the registry. Still, Zainab could not find a match at the very beginning of her search in September, KTLA reported.
While she will be undergoing chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells, Bright said the blood transfusions are equally as important to her health.
“She’s going to need to be completely supported by blood donations in order to survive the cancer treatment in order to kill this cancer,” she said. “The blood’s not going to cure her, but the blood’s very, very important to support her while she undergoes the treatment for this particular cancer.”
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Since sharing her story on their site, Zainab has luckily found three donors already, including one from the United Kingdom — the first time OneBlood has received an international donor for a local patient — but she will need approximately four to six more donors in order to survive.
“My daughter is still a long way from being perfect,” Raheel said. “If you are one of those people from the Middle East, please go out and donate blood for my daughter. My daughter’s life very much depends on the blood.”
Those who believe they would be a good match with Zainab can find more information here.