ORLANDO, Fla. – A worldwide search is underway for what OneBlood is calling some of the rarest blood in the world.
The nonprofit organization is leading the search efforts in hopes of saving the life of a 2-year-old South Florida girl named Zainab, who has neuroblastoma, an extremely aggressive form of cancer, according to a news release.
OneBlood officials said the girl's blood is so rare because she's missing a common antigen called "Indian B" that most people carry on their red blood cells. A donor's blood would only be a match for Zainab if they, too, are missing the Indian B antigen, according to OneBlood. Otherwise, her body would reject the blood.
The organization said statistics show the only people who are likely to be a match for her are people of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent. Of those populations, still only 4 percent of people are actually missing the antigen.
OneBlood is working with other groups, as well as the American Rare Donor Program, an organization that searches worldwide for rare blood donors, to find matches for Zainab, as she will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future.
So far, more than 1,000 local donations, as well as some in other parts of the country, have been tested, but only three matching donors have been found, with one located in the United Kingdom. According to OneBlood, it's the first time the organization, which serves Florida and other areas in the Southeast, has ever received an international donor for a local patient. The other two donors are located in the U.S.
Still, more blood is needed, and organization officials are looking to secure at least seven to 10 matching donors.
Are you a match for Zainab's blood type? According to OneBlood, you must meet the following criteria:
- Must be exclusively of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100% Pakistani, Indian or Iranian.
- Must have Type O or Type A blood
- Must coordinate all donations for Zainab with OneBlood in advance, to ensure the additional compatibility testing is performed.
Visit www.oneblood.org/zainab for more donation information.