OneBlood, the not-for-profit blood center serving Florida and other parts of the southeast announced that a fourth compatible blood donor has been found in the United Kingdom for 2-year-old Zainab, a South Florida child battling cancer who has extremely rare blood.
Zainab’s blood is extraordinarily rare because she is missing a common antigen that most people carry on their red blood cells. The antigen is called “Indian B” (Inb). For a person to be a possible match for Zainab, they must also be missing the Indian B antigen.
Statistically, the only people who are likely to be a match for Zainab are people of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent. Of these populations, less than 4 percent of the people are actually missing the Indian B antigen.
News of the additional donor comes a month after OneBlood announced it had identified three compatible donors for Zainab and was actively searching the world to find seven to ten donors to support the child’s long-term blood transfusion needs.
OneBlood is working closely with the American Rare Donor Program (ARDP), an organization that searches the world for rare blood donors.
The ARDP was recently informed by its international colleagues that a fourth potential donor had been found in the United Kingdom. The ARDP made arrangements for the unit of blood to be flown to the United States. Upon receiving the unit of blood, the OneBlood Reference team performed the compatibility testing and confirmed the donor is 100 percent compatible with Zainab.
Of the four matching donors, two were found in the United Kingdom and two were found in the United States. OneBlood says it will continue its worldwide search until it finds at least three to six additional donors for Zainab.
In the past month, OneBlood has received more than 22,000 emails from people who potentially meet the specific donor criteria needed to be a match for Zainab. The donors are being contacted by OneBlood or by blood centers where the potential donors reside to coordinate their donation.
The effort to find compatible blood for Zainab is an all-hands-on-deck effort throughout the blood banking industry. Nearly two dozen blood centers are actively working with OneBlood to find compatible donors. To date, the OneBlood Reference Laboratory team has tested more than 2200 units of blood. Testing is taking place around-the-clock.
OneBlood says the response by the public to help Zainab has been unprecedented and is bringing heightened awareness to the need for a diverse blood supply.
To be a match for Zainab a donor must meet the following criteria:
1) Must be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100% Pakistani, Indian or Iranian
2) Must be blood type O or A (If a donor does not know their blood type, but meet the requirements in bullet point #1, they should still donate to see if they are a possible match)
3) Donors must inform their phlebotomist prior to their donation that they are donating for Zainab to ensure their donation receives the additional compatibility testing necessary to determine if they are a match for Zainab.
4) Donation information can be found at www.oneblood.org/zainab.