South Florida girl who needed rare blood to battle cancer now in remission

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida girl who was in need of rare blood donations to help battle an aggressive cancer is now in remission.

Zainab Mughal, 4, made national headlines after a worldwide search for blood donors with a special blood type amid her battle with an aggressive form of cancer called neuroblastoma.

“There is no evidence of disease in Zainab at this stage,” said Dr. Iftkar Hanif of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

“She is a super strong girl,” said Miriam Mughal, Zainab’s mother.

“We all see this as a true miracle,” said Raheel Mughal, Zainab’s father.

Zainab is a South Florida girl with some of the rarest blood in the world.

She is missing a common antigen called “Indian B,” which most people have in their blood. Because she is missing the antigen, she could only receive blood from people who were also missing the antigen or her body will reject the blood.

“The only people who are likely to be missing that antigen are people who are Indian, Iranian or Pakistani descent,” said One Blood spokesperson Susan Forbes. “Of those populations, only 4% are likely to be missing the Indian B antigen.”

After a global call to action, One Blood, a South Florida non-profit, shared the happy update after making it their mission to spread the word and find Zainab the help she needed.

“You know, the world literally responded to help save Zainab’s life,” said Forbes.

When Zainab’s story went viral and after partnering with the American Rare Donor Program, One Blood managed to find three donors immediately.

“We’ve never had such an outreach to a certain population to try to get them to try and find donors,” said Sandra Nance of the American Red Cross.

Doctors tested more than 4,000 units of blood samples, and they managed to find five perfect matches from across the world. The donors all consistently donated as soon as they were eligible to help ensure Zainab had the supply needed to help her get through her cancer treatments.

“It was a remarkable effort,” said Hanif. “I mean, I could have never imagined that we’d get a blood unit from England and brought into this country, leave alone this entire country, the USA, but we also got blood from other countries. It was an international search, and fortunately for this girl, we were able to get enough units.”

According to OneBlood, Zainab received more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions. Doctors said it would not have been possible for her to have endured the chemotherapy, surgery and two bone marrow transplants without the blood.

Now, a year-and-a-half after being diagnosed with cancer, Zainab is in remission and recently celebrated her fourth birthday.

“Thank you, blood donor,” said Zainab.

OneBlood said there are other patients in similar situations as Zainab and voiced the need for more people to donate and increase the donor population.

“Zainab’s story has brought unprecedented global attention to the need for a diverse blood supply,” said Forbes. “There are many other patients, just like Zainab, who have extraordinarily rare blood needs. Finding compatible blood for these patients comes down to genetics. The only way to find specially matched blood for these patients is to increase the diversity of the donor population.”

One Blood urges people to donate blood frequently to help those like Zainab or others with more common blood types.

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