OneBlood, the local not-for-profit blood center serving Florida and other parts of the southeast, is leading a worldwide search to find some of the rarest blood in the world. It’s needed to help save 2-year-old Zainab, a South Florida girl who is battling neuroblastoma, a very aggressive form of cancer.

Zainab’s blood is extremely 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, or the little girl's body will reject the blood. Locating people who are missing the Indian B antigen comes down to genetics.

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.

To be a match for Zainab a donor must meet the following criteria:

• Must be exclusively Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent – meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100 percent 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. Visit for donation information.

OneBlood is working closely with other blood centers and the American Rare Donor Program, an organization that searches the world for rare blood donors. So far, three matching donors have been located, including a donor that ARDP located in the United Kingdom, near London. It’s the first time OneBlood has ever received an international donor for a local patient. The other two matching donors are from the United States.

While it’s promising the three donors have been located, additional donors are needed. Zainab will need blood transfusions for the foreseeable future. To support her long-term blood needs, the search is on to find at least seven to 10 compatible donors. OneBlood is sharing Zainab’s story in the hopes more people who meet the specific donor criteria will come forward to donate for the little girl.

OneBlood is conducting all compatibility testing of potential donors. So far, more than 1,000 local donations, as well as donations from other parts of the country have been tested and no additional matches have been identified.

Morton Plant Hospital receives Baby-Friendly designation

CLEARWATER – For the fourth time, Morton Plant Hospital has received Baby-Friendly designation from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The hospital first earned the Baby-Friendly status in 2003 and has been designated Baby-Friendly longer than any other facility in Florida. Each designation is good for five years.

Launched in 1991, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding, safe feeding practices and maternal infant bonding. A maternity facility is awarded Baby-Friendly status after meeting requirements established by WHO and UNICEF and following the 10 Steps of Successful Breastfeeding. There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide.

“We are proud to have earned the Baby-Friendly designation once again,” said Shari Crowe, director of Women’s Services at Morton Plant Hospital. “From breastfeeding classes before birth to nursing help immediately after birth to support groups when the family goes home, our team is committed to helping each mother succeed in breastfeeding her child.”

Mederi Caretenders named a top agency

PINELLAS PARK – Mederi Caretenders recently was named a top agency of the 2018 HomeCare Elite, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States.

For 13 years, HomeCare Elite has annually identified the top 25 percent of Medicare-certified agencies and highlighted the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall.

Mederi Caretenders, a local provider of home health services in Pinellas Park, is part of LHC Group, a national provider of post-acute care services with 32,000 employees operating locations in 36 states.

“The entire LHG Group family congratulates our team members at Mederi Caretenders for achieving this meaningful mark of excellence in our industry,” said Keith G. Myers, LHC Group’s chairman and CEO. “They are the reason we succeed in bringing high-quality healthcare to the patients, families, referral sources, and healthcare partners in every community we serve. Their hard work and commitment to patients and families has earned Mederi Caretenders a place among the nation’s best.”

The ranking is developed by ABILITY Network, a leading information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare. It is sponsored by DecisionHealth, publisher of Home Health Line and the Complete Home Health ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Coding Manual.

HomeCare Elite agencies are determined by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, best practices implementation, patient experience, quality improvement and consistency, and financial health. In order to be considered, an agency must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least three outcomes in Home Health Compare. Out of 8,898 agencies considered, 2,223 are recognized on the 2018 HomeCare Elite winners list overall.

Cardiologist to host Walk with a Doc event

SEMINOLE – Dr. John Norris, a local cardiologist, will host Walk with a Doc Saturday, Jan. 12, 3 p.m., at Walsingham Park, 12615 102nd Ave., Seminole.

This is a free event to promote walking as a healthy lifestyle. The group will meet in Shelter 5 at the park. Attendees may walk at their own pace. For information, call 727-587-6999.

BayCare names new vice president

CLEARWATER – BayCare Health System recently named Keri Eisenbeis the new vice president of government and community relations. BayCare is a leading not-for-profit organization comprised of 15 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout Tampa Bay and central Florida regions.

Eisenbeis, who was the director of government relations and community outreach at BayCare, will be responsible for leading government relations, community benefit, research, grants, communications as well as coordinating community relations efforts.

“Eisenbeis has played an important role in moving BayCare’s mission and strategic goals forward,” said Ed Rafalski, senior vice president, chief strategy and marketing officer for BayCare. “Through this new role, she will help enhance government and community relations even further within the system and in the community.”

Eisenbeis, who has been working at BayCare for nine years, has demonstrated tremendous leadership in various capacities within the system. She has helped elevate government relations and BayCare’s community outreach. She has also been a strong believer in the power of communications - educating and inspiring team members and informing the community about BayCare and its health care priorities.

“I took this role because I am passionate about BayCare and its guiding principles,” said Eisenbeis. “BayCare’s impact is life-saving, life-changing and inspiring. I hope to continue to share BayCare’s story with community members, decision makers and opinion shapers – to ensure that every community member truly understands our commitment to them.”

Eisenbeis completed a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Emory University and a master of legal studies at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

VA Community Living Center to host open house

ST. PETERSBURG – An open house will take place Thursday, Dec. 20, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s Community Living Center, located in building 101 at the the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center Campus, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Special event signage and parking accommodations will be made available in parking lot No. 8. Driving directions and a map can be accessed online at

The open house activity will showcase the 24-hour skilled nursing center and the programs and services available to veterans who reside at the facility. Attendees will be greeted at the entrance of building 101 and be taken to a reception area where tours, a poster presentation, outreach activities, and light refreshments will be provided.

Veterans, their families and members of the community are invited to attend. For additional information, call 727-398-6661, ext. 15407 or 15391.

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