Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Toddler with rare blood type sparks worldwide search for donors

Toddler with rare blood type sparks worldwide search for donors

A worldwide hunt is now underway to find a rare blood type to help a 2-year-old South Florida girl battling cancer. She will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future, according to OneBlood.

OneBlood says people who are of Indian, Pakistani or Iranian descent are statistically the only people to be a possible donor match for Zainab, and of those groups, less than 4 percent are missing the Indian B antigen. Narrowing the field further is the fact that donors would also need to be missing the "Indian B" antigen commonly found in blood, just like Zainab.

"We now have to provide more specialty matched blood for this child", said Frieda Bright, the reference laboratory manager for OneBlood, in a video produced by the organization.

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First diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma a few weeks ago, family and doctors believe it was growing in Zainab's stomach for at least 10 months.

According to St Jude Children's Research Hospital, neuroblastoma accounts for seven to 10 percent of childhood cancers. In about 2 out of 3 cases, the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body upon diagnosis. "This was the worst thing we were expecting".

Zainab's red blood cells are missing a common antigen known as Indian-B, said Susan Forbes, vice president of marketing and communications for OneBlood.

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Florida-based OneBlood, a nonprofit blood center, has now been conducting an global search to find compatible blood donors. None of Zainab's family have turned out to be matches, Mughal said. Because the antigen is so common, it makes it hard to find blood donors who are lacking it as well, Forbes said.

Because of the requirements needed to be met, OneBlood chose to go worldwide with its search in hopes of finding 7-10 donors to help over the course of Zainab's treatment.

Dr Bright further explained, "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".

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"What you're doing to save a human life, my daughter's life, is unbelievable", says Mughal.

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