The tumor inside Zainab Mughal’s belly may have been growing for 10 months without anyone knowing.
Then, about two months ago, the 2-year-old’s parents got a devastating diagnosis — Zainab has neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that mainly affects children.
“We were all crying.,” said Zainab’s father Raheel Mughal in a video. “This was the worst thing we were expecting.”
Complicating the matter for the Miami-Dade family: She has a rare blood type and finding a match for life-saving transfusions is a huge challenge.
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”We now have to provide more specialty matched blood for this child,” said Frieda Bright, the reference laboratory manager for OneBlood, in a video produced by the organization. “The possibility of us finding a compatible donor for this little girl within the right ethnic group is less than 4 percent.”
That’s because Zainab is missing a common antigen that most people carry on their red blood cells, called “Indian B.” A genetic mutation caused the problem.
In order to be a match for Zainab, the donor must be Pakistani, Indian or Iranian — meaning the donor’s birth parents would have to be 100 percent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian — and must have a blood type of “O” or “A.” Donors also must coordinate with OneBlood, so their sample is tested for compatibility.
“This is all hands on deck,” Bright said in the video. “We are searching the world to try to find blood for this little girl.”
Her dad told OneBlood that he, his wife and most of their families donated, but were not a match.
So far, three donors have been located — one of whom lives in the United Kingdom. But OneBlood says Zainab is going to need a lot more blood than three donors can provide to beat the cancer.
“It’s a humble request and I request it from my heart,” Mughal said in the video. “My daughter’s life very much depends on the blood.”
For information on Zainab, or how to donate visit www.oneblood.org/zainab.