Some help found, but more is needed for Florida girl with rare blood type

A New York woman with a rare blood type is donating two units to help save a 2-year-old South Florida girl who is battling cancer.

2-year-old Zainab is battling a very aggressive form of cancer called neuroblastoma. Her blood is extremely rare because she is missing a common antigen that most people carry in their red blood cells. The antigen is called 'Indian B.'

For a person to be a possible match for Zainab, they must also be missing the Indian B antigen or the little girl's body will reject the blood. Those most likely to be a match for Zainab are people of Pakistani, Indian, or Iranian descent. Of these populations, less than 4% of these people are actually missing the Indian B antigen.

News outlets report a New York woman had donated her own blood while pregnant in case she needed a transfusion during her delivery. Luckily, she didn't need it, and has agreed to give it to Zainab Mughal, who has neuroblastoma.

Susan Forbes of Florida-based OneBlood says that transfer still needs approval from the FDA, and the woman isn't eligible to donate yet after giving birth.

OneBlood is asking for more donors as Zainab will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future. 

To be a match for Zainab, OneBlood says the following must be met:

  • Must be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100% Pakistani, Indian or Iranian  
  • Must be blood type “O” or “A”
  • All donations for Zainab must be coordinated with OneBlood in advance to ensure the additional compatibility testing is performed.

Four other matching donors have been located, including two from the United States and two from the United Kingdom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.