2-year-old girl battling cancer needs extremely rare blood, sparking worldwide search

A worldwide search is on to find blood donors with a rare genetic variation to help save a 2-year-old South Florida girl battling cancer.

Zainab Mughal has neuroblastoma and needs life-saving transfusions.

“The results came in and the results were really bad,” her father, Raheel Mughal, said in a video on the OneBlood website. “We were all crying. This was like the worst thing we were expecting.”

Raheel Mughal and his wife were tested to see if they were compatible donors, but they were not. Other family members were not, either.

In fact, it soon became clear that finding compatible donors would be immensely challenging because Zainab has extremely rare blood.

She’s missing a common antigen most people carry in their blood, called “Indian B.”

“The missing antigen is so rare that honestly this is the first time I’ve seen it in the 20 years I’ve been doing this,” OneBlood lab manager Frieda Bright said, according to NBC News.

Florida-based OneBlood says the donors must have “A″ or “O″ type blood and be Pakistani, Indian or Iranian; and that even within these ethnic groups, fewer than four percent of people have the genetic variation.

Three donors have been found thus far, including a person in England, but Zainab will need more blood than they can provide.

OneBlood said it aims to find at least seven to 10 compatible donors and is offering to coordinate compatibility testing anywhere in the world.

“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,” Bright said.

Raheel Mughal said he has been touched by OneBlood’s effort to help his daughter.

“What you’re doing to save a human life, to save my daughter’s life, is amazing. The work you’re doing, I’ll never forget it. Once my daughter grows, I’m going to remind her the effort that was made to save her life,” he said. “I encourage everyone to please go out and donate the blood. It’s a humble request, and I request it from my heart. My daughter’s life very much depends on the blood.”

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