Rare blood donor found in Australia for Zainab

Rare blood donor found in Australia for Zainab

The international search for a blood donor for a Florida toddler with a rare blood type has found a match here in Australia.

Three-year-old Zainab is currently battling cancer and needs regular blood transfusions as part of her treatment.

Her 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. 

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has tested more than 200 donors who have come forward as part of the search.

Adjunct Professor David O. Irving, Director of Research and Development at the Lifeblood, said a compatible blood donor was found in Sydney and a donation was made on January 25.

“The unit of blood was then flown to the United States, where it was tested and confirmed to be 100 per cent compatible with Zainab,” he said.

OneBlood, which is leading the search, is seeking seven to ten donors to support Zainab’s long-term blood transfusion needs.

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 four per cent of the people are actually missing the Indian B antigen.

Across Australia there is a tiny group of blood donors whose blood type is so rare they rely on their own frozen blood supply and can be called to donate at any time for a patient anywhere in the world. As Australia’s population grows and continues to diversify, the Lifeblood has a need for donors specifically from Polynesia, Melanesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, India, Pakistan and Iran.

Anyone interested in donating blood or getting tested as part of the search for donors for Zainab can contact us on 13 14 95.

To be a match for Zainab, a donor must:

  1. Be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100% Pakistani, Indian or Iranian 
  2. Be blood type 'O' or 'A'. If a donor does not know their blood type, they should still donate to see if they are a possible match. 
  3. IMPORTANT: Donors must inform us 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.