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Family of girls with rare blood type overwhelmed by support



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/ Source: TODAY

To Meghan Holohan

Almost immediately after Zainab had learned to walk Mughal, she began walking. She had to keep up with her three older brothers and cousins. If they jumped from couch to couch, the girl followed. While she loved to overthrow and wrestle with her brothers, she was also kind, always listening to her parents and always reading that she hugged herself.

But that changed when she was about 20 months old.

something more stubborn. She started eating less, "her dad, Raheel Mughal, told TODAY. "She would not play with other kids."

Worldwide, people offer to donate blood to help Zainab Mughal, who has a rare blood type, and her family is grateful for the overwhelming support. Oneblood

Mariam Mehmood's wife of Mughal worried that this change meant something was wrong with Zainab. They went to the doctor, who assured them that the appetite of children sometimes changes at the age of 2 years. The family relaxed a bit, but still wondered if something was wrong.

"She lost weight. She was not active. She does not want to play, "said Mehmood TODAY. "I thought something went wrong inside."

After some tests, the Mughals received some startling news: Zainab has a neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops along the sympathetic nerves, in children often in the abdomen or torso.

"We were completely destroyed," Mughal said. "We started to cry."

When the doctors gave Zainab a blood transfusion as part of their treatment, something went awry. Her eyes and hands became swollen and she had a fever. She scratched herself and complained of itching. At that time, the doctors made another discovery: Zainab lacks an antigen in her blood, Indian B, and she needs blood from donors that have the same mutation, or she gets sick.

"You have not just cancer but blood problems," Mughal said. "It was just incredible."

Less than 4 percent of the tested donors miss this antigen. According to OneBlood, a non-profit organization that supplies blood products to hospitals in Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. Only people who are 100 percent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian carry this mutation and can help Zainab. After her first blood transfusion had resulted in a poor response, OneBlood helped search for Zainab's blood.

Ever since the education about Zainab's health crisis, people around the world have turned to OneBlood to help her.

I identified three (individuals), two donors in the United States and one donor in the United Kingdom, "said Frieda Bright, director of the Immunogimetology Reference Lab at OneBlood, to TODAY.

Ideally, they would like to have about ten Donors who deliver the blood needed by Zainab during their cancer treatment.

"Zainab is currently undergoing treatment, which will be required over time to be fully supported by blood products," explains Bright.

Donor can donate blood every 56 days, and the blood stays good for about 35 days, so it's important for Zainab to have a steady supply of donors.

"She's getting ready for the next phase of her treatment." Bright said, "We have to be willing to help with blood."

The Mughals feel overwhelmed by the support.


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