Local blood centers looking for match for young Florida cancer patient

Desiree Burns
December 8, 2018

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.

Most people never have to contend with the often-hidden world of rare blood transfusions.

That's because they're as rare as she is.

Zainab's tumor was found in her stomach two months ago, but doctors believe it may have been growing undetected for nearly ten months. "So, so far, she has been going through her normal treatment", her father, Raheel Mughal, said in a video provided by OneBlood. 'This was the worst thing we were expecting'. She suffers from neuroblastoma, that developed in her nerve cells and she is now undergoing chemotherapy. Zainab has been receiving blood from these donors but she will need more to survive.

Both of Zainab's parents and several relatives were tested, but no one was a match. They must be exclusively of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent and their blood type must be O or A. The search is being coordinated by the nonprofit organization OneBlood and donations must be made through the group.

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Already over 1000 potential matches have donated blood to see if they're suitable donors, and the Mughals have started a campaign with OneBlood to help raise awareness of their little girl's fight.

"Statistically, the only people who are likely to be a match for Zainab are people of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent".

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

So far, OneBlood has identified three matching donors, including two from the United States and one from the United Kingdom, which is the first time the organization has received an worldwide donor for a local patient. But those people still get into accidents or come down with diseases like everyone else, so there's a network of blood centers that specialize in rare blood, keeping a database of scarce combinations of antibodies and shuttling it across the country to patients in need. "My daughter's life very much depends on the blood..."

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.

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