Broward family makes plea for donors with extremely rare blood to save toddler’s life

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The family of a South Florida toddler is making a plea for donors with an extremely rare blood type to help save their little girl’s life.

Mariam Mehmood discovered a large mass in her daughter Zainab’s abdomen and rushed the 2-year-old to the hospital. That’s when the family received devastating news: the toddler had an aggressive form of cancer called neuroblastoma.

“With an ultrasound and scanning, they found an almost 10 cm mass inside of her,” Mehmood told 7News.

“It was completely heartbreaking,” said Zainab’s father, Raheel Mughal. “We never thought she would have anything like that.”

She needs chemotherapy for treatment, along with blood transfusions. OneBlood said her dire situation is complicated by her blood type since she is missing a common antigen that most people carry in their red blood cells.

“It’s been discovered that she is lacking a very common antigen that most people have, and because she’s lacking it, she needs blood from people who are also lacking it, and that’s the Indian B antigen,” said Susan Forbes with OneBlood.

It’s one of the rarest blood types in the world, and it means Zainab’s body will reject any blood that contains the Indian B antigen.

The only people who are likely to be a match for Zainab are people of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, Forbes said. Of these populations, less than 4 percent of the people are actually missing the Indian B antigen.

OneBlood said it’s working closely with other blood centers across the country as well as the American Rare Donor Program, which helps search the globe for donors with rare blood types.

So far, three matching donors have been found worldwide, including a donor in the United Kingdom. The organization said it is the first time they have ever had an international donor for a local patient.

OneBlood said they are looking for seven to 10 more compatible donors since Zainab will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future.

“We are hoping everyday, and we have strong faith that she will make it,” Mehmood said.

According OneBlood, the following conditions must be met for anyone to be a possible match for Zainab:

  • Must be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100 percent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian.
  • Must be blood type “O” or “A.”
  • Donors must reach out to OneBlood in advance to ensure the additional compatibility testing is performed.

For more information on how to become a potential donor for Zainab, click here

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