The Florida toddler who made international headlines last month after sparking a worldwide search for a blood donor is in need of at least three more matches as she fights aggressive cancer. Complicating the search is the 2-year-old’s genetic mutation, which means her blood is missing the “Indian B” antigen, putting the chances of finding a match at “less than 4 percent.”
So far, the search for Zainab Mughal’s potentially lifesaving matches, which is being spearheaded by OneBlood, has turned up four donors, with two being placed in the U.S. and two others in the U.K.
Zainab’s father said that the blood provided from the donors has enabled doctors to continue treatment for neuroblastoma, but that it isn’t a permanent supply.
“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, according to Fox 31. “The blood’s not going to cure her, but the blood’s very, very important to support her while she undergoes the treatment for this particular cancer.
Doctors estimate she will need between three and six more donors, who all must hail from Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent and have either type A or O blood.
“We have a zero percent chance of finding compatible blood for this little girl if we look in pretty much any other ethnic group,” Freida Bright, a lab manager with OneBlood said, according to Fox 31. “We are searching the world to try to find blood for this little girl.”
A senior director at the American Rare Donor Program, which tracks at least 59 types of rare blood, told Fox 31 that none of its 120,000 registered donors are a match for Zainab.
According to the Miami Herald, over the summer doctors discovered a tumor that had been growing undetected in Zainab’s stomach, which led to her eventual cancer diagnosis.
Neuroblastoma most often occurs in infants and young children, and accounts for about 6 percent of all cancers in children. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 800 new cases of neuroblastoma diagnosed each year. In about 2 out of 3 cases, the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body upon diagnosis.
“We were all crying,” Raheel Mughal, the girl’s father, said, according to the Miami Herald. “This was the worst thing we were expecting.”