In the worldwide search for donors with an extremely rare blood type, there may be one promising lead for a Florida toddler.
Two-year-old Zainab Mughal has an aggressive form of neuroblastoma, and her rare blood type that makes it difficult for her to find a suitable match.
"The results were very bad," Zainab's father, Raheel, told the nonprofit OneBlood, which has been courting potential donors for Zainab. "She was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma and this was like the worst thing we were expecting. We were all crying."
Zainab is missing an antigen called "Indian B,” which most people have in their blood cells, meaning she can only accept blood from a donor missing that same antigen, as well as be of Indian, Pakistani or Iranian descent.
But now there could be a break. An anonymous New York woman who was saving blood in case of complications with her own pregnancy donated the blood to Zainab after welcoming a healthy baby last week.
"What you're doing to save a human's life, to save my daughter's life is amazing, and once my daughter grows, I'm gonna remind her," Raheel said. "'The effort was made for you. To save your life. When you were a child.'"
Even though this may look promising, the FDA still needs to approve the donation. Autologous donations, or donations used for self, are not typically allowed to be used for others. FDA blood regulations also prevent a woman from donating blood for at least eight weeks after giving birth.
Zainab does need enough blood for the foreseeable future, meaning the search continues to track down more potential donors to save the toddler's life.
Something good has come of Zainab's plight, however. Officials with OneBlood said the international search has widened their donor pool.
"It's also increased the diversity for our blood supply," OneBlood reference lab manager Frieda Bright said. "We have donors that may have never donated that are donating now for the first time and identified them that we may not have seen because of the wonderful call to donors."
Since December, OneBlood has received more than 25,000 emails from people who would like to help Zainab. She is scheduled to have surgery to remove the cancerous tumor on Jan. 16.