The Washington Post reports a gripping story of a family struck by a rare disease diagnosis, but also a heartening story of a global community coming together to support them – and an opportunity for all of us to help.
Two-year-old Zainab Mughal of Florida was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Fighting this rare disease means she needs two bone marrow transplants as well as many transfusions to replenish her blood supply.
“The results came in and the results were really bad,” said Zainab’s father, Raheel. “We were all crying. This was like the worst thing we were expecting.”
What is Neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that forms from immature nerve cells. It usually in the adrenal glands because they have similar origins to nerve cells. Neuroblastoma can also develop in other areas of the abdomen and In the chest, neck, and near the spine, where groups of nerve cells exist.
This rare disease is especially devastating because it most often affects children who are five years old or younger.
OneBlood is a nonprofit blood center that strives to “enhance the health and well-being of others through our work with blood and stem cell products and by facilitating scientific research.”
OneBlood, along with the American Rare Donor Program, is conducting a global survey to find Zainab an exact match. As of this writing, three compatible donors have been found! One in London, and the other two in the United States.
But as promising as that is, it’s not enough.
Rules limit how frequently donors can give blood and Zainab’s doctors would have to line up as many as 10 donors to ensure that whenever she needs a blood transfusion, she can get it.
What Can We Do?
The people most likely to have suitable blood are of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, according to OneBlood. Here is their criteria for donors, and if you’re a match, please consider reaching out:
You must meet the following criteria to be a potential match for Zainab:
- MUST be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100% Pakistani, Indian or Iranian
- MUST be blood type “O” or “A”
- All donations for Zainab must be coordinated with OneBlood in advance to ensure the additional compatibility testing is performed
“It’s a humble request, and I request it from my heart,” says Raheel. “My daughter’s life very much depends on the blood… What you’re doing to save a human life, to save my daughter’s life, it’s amazing. Once my daughter grows, I’m going to remind her that the effort was made for you to save your life.”