2-year-old Florida girl battling cancer needs extremely rare blood, sparking worldwide search

2-year-old Florida girl battling cancer needs extremely rare blood, sparking worldwide search

2-year-old Florida girl battling cancer needs extremely rare blood, sparking worldwide search

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

A 2-year-old Florida girl with cancer needs transfusions of an extremely rare blood type “for the foreseeable future,” according to a blood-donation organization conducting a worldwide search for enough donors to meet her needs.

OneBlood, a Florida-based nonprofit, is seeking potential donors for Zainab, who is battling neuroblastoma and whose blood is missing a common antigen, called Indian B. If Zainab receives blood with this antigen, her body will reject it, according to OneBlood.

The missing antigen “is so rare that honestly this is the first time I’ve seen it in the 20 years I’ve been doing this,” said OneBlood lab manager Frieda Bright.

Now. Join us on Facebook Live. OneBlood is leading a worldwide search to find extremely rare #blooddonors to help a two-year-old Florida girl battling #cancer.
Join us to find out if you or someone you know could be her match. https://t.co/A31VcyBEog pic.twitter.com/Ae72C0Z1in

— OneBlood (@my1blood)

“Locating people who are missing the Indian B antigen comes down to genetics,” said a release from OneBlood. The only people who could be a likely match for Zainab would be “exclusively” of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian decent, meaning both parents of the donor must be 100 percent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian, a OneBlood release said.

And even within this population, fewer than 4 percent of people are missing the antigen. The donor must also be blood type “O” or “A.”

In an effort to find donors, OneBlood is working with the American Rare Donor Program, a cooperative of the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks that operates a database of more than 80,000 rare donors in the U.S. A person’s blood is considered rare if one in 1,000 or more individuals lack the same antigen.

OneBlood said 1,000 donors have been tested, and only three matching donors have been found. Two are from the United States, and one the United Kingdom. “It’s the first time OneBlood has ever received an international donor for a local patient,” the OneBlood statement said.

While finding three donors is encouraging, “Zainab will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future,” OneBlood said, adding that it aims to find at least seven to 10 compatible donors.

“She’s going to need to be completely supported by blood donations in order to survive the cancer treatment in order to kill this cancer,” Bright said.

Elisha Fieldstadt

Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.




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