ORLANDO, Fla. - Since sharing the story of a 2-year-old Florida girl in need of rare blood donations earlier this week, OneBlood said the response from people across the world has been overwhelming.
The organization issued the call Monday for Zainab, a South Florida girl battling an aggressive form of cancer, listing the specific criteria for donors to be a match for her blood type.
On Friday, officials with the nonprofit said they had already received more than 15,000 emails from people who potentially meet the specific criteria.
In addition to the response from potential donors, dozens of organizations within OneBlood's service area had reached out about hosting a blood drive for Zainab, according to a news release. Blood centers across the U.S. have also received similar requests, the release said.
Organization officials said they're now working to go through every email and are providing lists to blood centers of potential donors who live in their area.
According to OneBlood, the response from the public is unprecedented and gives them hope they will find more donors for Zainab.
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.
As of Monday, more than 1,000 local donations, as well as some in other parts of the country, had been tested, but only three matching donors had 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 (If a donor does not know their blood type, but meet the requirements in bullet point one, they should still donate to see if they are a possible match).
- Must coordinate all donations for Zainab with OneBlood in advance, to ensure the additional compatibility testing is performed.
The organization said it's important for donors to tell their phlebotomist prior to their donation that they're donating for Zainab to ensure their blood receives the additional compatibility testing necessary to see if they're a match.
Visit www.oneblood.org/zainab for more donation information.
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