This Christmas, a family is hoping and praying for a miracle to keep their two-year-old daughter alive.
Parents Raheel Mughal and Mariam Mehmood of Florida say their little two-year-old daughter, Zainab, has neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that develops in nerve tissue.
They first noticed Zainab was sick a few months ago, when she started eating less, suffered from fevers, and became fatigued.
"We were all crying," Mughal remembered about receiving the bad news. "This was the worst thing we were expecting."
While living with cancer is hard enough for a toddler, Zainab has another condition that complicates her treatment.
Her blood is missing an antigen (an antibody product created by the immune system) called Indian B.
That means all donated blood Zainab receives during her treatment can’t contain Indian B. But blood without the antigen is so rare next to nothing is known about it, and neither of Zainab’s parents are a match.
"They have a few units in stock but that is not enough," Raheel told NBC News. "That is nowhere near enough."
Patients hoping to donate blood to Zainab have to meet a series of qualifications. First, they need to be of Indian, Pakistani, or Iranian background. Even then, just 4% of people who meet that qualification will also not carry the Indian B antigen.
While it’s possible to find a match outside those ethnic groups, OneBlood says the chances are close to zero.
Donors also need to have a matching blood type with Zainab, either type A or the universal donor type O.
To find blood for Zainab, the American Rare Donor Program, American Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks, and a nonprofit from Florida called OneBlood all have joined forces to search for donors around the world.
Since September, OneBlood has tested more than 1,000 donors but found just three matches - two in the U.K. and one in America.
While any match is good news for Zainab, the organization wants to find seven to 10 matches to guarantee they’ll have enough stocked for her. They also hope to find more matches closer to Zainab's family in America.
For Mehmood, who says her daughter is "my life, my everything," all she can ask the world is, "Please help."
How can I help?
To arrange to test your blood and see if it can be donated to Zainab, use this page at OneBlood’s website.
Even if you don’t qualify to donate, you can help find more matches for Zainab by sharing her story!