Little girl’s life hanging on search for rare blood donor

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 8, 2018

The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, along with other providers across the country, are putting out a nationwide call for a rare blood type that could benefit a pediatric cancer patient in South Florida.

The patient, who the organization has only identified as "Zainab", has an aggressive childhood cancer called neuroblastoma, and an extremely rare blood type, where she's missing an antigen called Indian B or Inb.

To qualify, potential donors must be exclusively of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, which means the donors birth parents also must have an exclusive ancestry, and must be blood type "O" or "A". The blood donors should be missing the Indian B antigen as well or Zainab would reject the blood.

Most people never have to contend with the often-hidden world of rare blood transfusions. They weren't. A parade of family and friends came into the hospital to be pricked by needles.

OneBlood, a non-profit blood centre in the U.S., has explained donors of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent with A or O blood types are most likely to be suitable donors for Zainab. "The possibility of us finding a compatible donor for this little girl within the right ethnic group is less than 4 percent".

So the Mughals have had to turn their search to the rest of the world, relying on the goodness of strangers to save their baby girl.

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This has sparked a global search to find a compatible blood donor. The girl was diagnosed a few weeks ago and doctors said the cancer may have been growing in her stomach for months. Fighting it would require two bone marrow transplants and a series of transfusions to replenish her blood supply as chemotherapy shrinks the tumor to nothing, doctors said.

"It's a humble request and I request it from my heart, so please donate the blood for my daughter", said her father, Raheel Mughal. If they are identified as a match for Zainab, "the donor will be added to a list of potential donors for Zainab and asked to schedule future appointments for donation, as needs are dictated by her ongoing treatment", according to a news release.

"My daughter is still a long way from being flawless", Raheel said.

"Rare blood is the blood that you don't have when you need it no matter what", Nance said. "We now have to provide more specialty matched blood for this child", said OneBlood reference laboratory manager Frieda Bright.

Those who believe they would be a good match with Zainab can find more information here.

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