Florida girl, 2, fighting cancer needs rare blood type only found in a VERY specific gene pool in Asia

December 6, 2018  10:45

A worldwide search is on to find some of the rarest blood in the world for a two-year-old girl fighting an aggressive cancer.

Zainab Mughal, from South Florida, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma - a cancer in the nerve cells - and needs life-saving blood transfusions as she undergoes chemotherapy.

However, Zainab is missing a common antigen most people carry in their blood, dropping the amount of compatible donors down to less than four percent.

Now, her parents are pleading for anyone who believes they may be a match for their daughter to come forward and donate before it's too late.

Zainab's tumor was found in her stomach two months ago, but doctors believe it may have been growing undetected for almost ten months. 

'We were all crying,' said Zainab's father Raheel Mughal in an interview with OneBlood. 'This was the worst thing we were expecting.' 

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that develops in the very early forms of nerve cells.

It is most common in infants and children under age five, rarely occurring in older children.

Neuroblastoma is most commonly found in the adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys and are responsible for producing hormones that help regulate the metabolism, immune system and other essential functions.

However, it can also begin in or spread to other areas including the abdomen, chest, and spine, where groups of nerve cells exist.

According to St Jude Children's Research Hospital, neuroblastoma accounts for seven to 10 percent of childhood cancers. Around 800 new cases are diagnosed in the US every year.

Along with chemotherapy, children receive blood transfusions to restore blood cells destroyed from the treatment. 

Doctors soon learned that Zainab's red blood cells are missing a common antigen, which causes your immune system to produce antibodies, called Indian B.

Both of Zainab's parents and several relatives were tested, but no one was a match.

Florida-based OneBlood, a nonprofit blood center, has now been conducting an international search to find compatible blood donors.  

To be a donor, a person must have blood type A or O and they must be missing the same antigen - otherwise Zainab's body will reject the blood.

Donors need to be exclusively of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, meaning both parents must be 100 percent of one of these ethnicities.  

Even within these ethnic groups, fewer than four percent of people have the genetic variation.

According to a press release, more than 1,000 local and nationwide donations have been tested. 

Thus far, three donors have been found, two from the US and one from England, but Zainab will need more blood than they can provide. 

'We need to find more...It's a humble request, and I request it from my heart,' said Raheel Mughal said in the video. 

'My daughter's life very much depends on the blood. So, please, donate the blood for my daughter.'

OneBlood is coordinating compatibility testing and asks that prospective donors specify that they are looking to donate for Zainab, so the blood can be tagged for testing. 

Source and photo: dailymail.co.uk

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