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Global blood search underway to save the life of two-year-old girl


A world-wide search is underway to find some of the rarest blood in the world.

A toddler with an aggressive form of cancer is relying on the kindness of strangers and a less than four per cent chance of finding a compatible blood donor in a race-against-time battle to save her life.

Zainab Mughal, who lives in Florida, US was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that usually occurs in children.

To fight the cancer, the two-year-old requires two bone marrow transplants and a series of transfusions to restore her blood supply while undergoing chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.

But her treatment has been complicated after doctors discovered she has a blood mutation - meaning she has one of the rarest blood types in the world.

This has sparked a global search to find a compatible blood donor.

A specialised team from OneBlood has teamed with the American Rare Donor Program, an organisation that connects donors with needy patients across the world, in the search to find a compatible donor for Zainab.

Please donate the blood for my daughter.

Raheel Mughal, Father

"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.

Her life is very much dependent on it, he said in a video plea.

Zainab Mughal’
Zainab Mughal has a rare blood mutation, complicating efforts to find compatible blood donors as she undergoes treatment for cancer.

Zainab's blood is missing a common antigen, known as the Indian-B Antigen.

This is the reason why it's that much more difficult to find someone else who's blood is also missing the Indian-B Antigen.

The bottom line is, for a donor to be a match they must be a certain blood type and also be missing the Indian-B Antigen or the little girl's body will reject the blood, says US organisation OneBlood.

"Because she's made this antibody we now have to provide more specially matched blood for this child," said Frieda Bright, OneBlood's reference lab manager.

But the blood also needs to come from a very specific population - people from Iran, Pakistan and India.

Flag map of the world
Donors from Iran, Pakistan or India are specifically required.
Wikimedia Commons

"The possibility of us finding a compatible donor within the right ethnic group we want to screen is less than four per cent," said Ms Bright.

"We have a zero per cent chance of finding compatible blood for this little girl if we look in pretty much any other ethnic group," said Ms Bright.

Why? Because people from different ethnic groups have specific genetic backgrounds.

Ultimately, Ms Bright says seven to 10 "solid" donors would be required to donate during the course of Zainab's treatment.

Are you a match?

  • MUST be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent - meaning the donor's birth parents are both 100 per cent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian
  • Must be blood type 'O' or 'A'
  • Donations must be coordinated with OneBlood in advance to ensure additional compatibility testing is performed

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