Asian Journal of Transfusion Science
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 185-186
Contribution of religion to blood donation: Iran experience

1 Managing Director Office, Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of International Affairs, Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization, Tehran, Iran

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Date of Web Publication28-Jul-2011

How to cite this article:
Abohghasemi H, Divkalayi NH, Seighali F. Contribution of religion to blood donation: Iran experience. Asian J Transfus Sci 2011;5:185-6

How to cite this URL:
Abohghasemi H, Divkalayi NH, Seighali F. Contribution of religion to blood donation: Iran experience. Asian J Transfus Sci [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Aug 20];5:185-6. Available from:


Based on several psychological studies, religious affiliation has vital effects on pro-social and altruistic behaviors. People with religious bonds are reported to contribute more actively to charitable practices. [1]

In Islam, saving human life and helping others against affliction are always enjoined. In the holy Quran Allah says, "Whosoever saves a human life saves the life of the whole mankind." [2]

Iran is an Islamic country which has the largest Shiite 1 (Shiite is the second largest denomination of Islam) population in the world. In this country, the influence of religion on pro-social activities such as blood donation is remarkable. A comprehensive study was carried out in 28 provinces of Iran to assess the motivation of Iranians for blood donation. In this study, it was proved that after altruism, religious beliefs are the most frequent positive motivation for blood donation among Iranians. [3] During Islamic year, there are some religious occasions that highlight this effect.

The most important date in this regard is Ashura day. The Day of Ashura, is the 10 th of Muharram and commemorated by Shiite Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). During Muharram, it is customary to donate blood in memorial of Imam Hussein's fight for preservation of Islam. Every year Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization (IBTO) dispatches its blood collection mobile teams throughout the country and blood collection centers are open till midnight on this day to collect blood from volunteers. In 2010, IBTO has collected more than 37,000 blood unites during Ashura day and the night before it. This is 3.5 times more than average daily rate of blood donation in Iran (In 2010, on average 4900 unites of blood collected each day in Iran). Several reports show that Shiites in other countries like Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Iraq, and United Arab Emirates also donate their blood on Ashura day.

Holy month of Ramadan is another important occasion for blood banks. During Ramadan, blood banks usually face blood shortages. This is due to the belief among people, which presume that blood donation may invalidate their fast. Another reason is that donating blood during fasting may cause weakness and blood donors may be forced to break their fast. Almost all Shiite scholars confirm the validity of fasting after blood donation. However, recent years' trend shown that Muslims in Iran and other Islamic countries are more likely to donate blood during Ramadan. It is repeatedly reported that blood donation campaigns during Ramadan receive positive responses. But 19 th , 21 st , and 23 rd of Ramadan called Layali al-Qadr, the anniversary of the nights Muslims believe the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad (PBUH), have reparative effect for blood banks. For Shiites layali- Qadr coincide with martyrdom anniversary of Hadhrat Ali (AS), the first Shiite Imam. During these nights the number of blood donors increases as Shiites consider blood donation a way of thanking God for their health and cherishing the memory of their first Imam. [4]

In 2010, during these holy nights 38,266 blood units were collected in Iran. This is almost 2.5 times more than the average daily rate of blood donation in Iran.

Existence of such beliefs and the culture of making vow to donate blood on other religious days paved the ways for IBTO to reach 100% voluntary none remunerated blood donation in 2007. These are unique opportunities available for limited blood banks throughout the world and with proper pre-planning, blood services specially those lacking blood supply and volunteer blood donors can be benefited from their considerable advantages.

   References Top

1.Vassilis S, Pichon I, Trompette L, Verschueren M, Rebecca D. Prosocial Behavior and Religion: New Evidence Based on Projective Measures and Peer Ratings. J Sci Study Relig 2005;44:323-48.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Holy Qur′an, Al-Ma′idah: 32.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Maghullu M. Assessing the Motivation of Blood Donors in 28 Provinces of Iran. Research Collection of Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization. 2 nd ed, Iranian Blood Transfusion Research Center Publication, 2005; 2:37.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Call for Ramadan Blood Donation, Iran Daily. Available from: [Last accessed on 2010 Aug 29].  Back to cited text no. 4

Correspondence Address:
Nasim Sadat Hosseini Divkalayi
8th Floor, Block: A, International Affairs Department, Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization, Hemmat Express Way, Tehran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-6247.83262

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