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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 443-446
Holy month of Ramadan and increase in organ donation willingness

1 Lung Transplantation Research Center, National Research Institute of TB and Lung Disease, Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, Tehran, Iran
2 Medicine and Health Promotion Institute, Tehran, Iran

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Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2010


Organ shortage is the most significant factor in restricting the activities of trans­plantation systems. We herein report the positive impact of Muslims' holy month of Ramadan on willingness to donate organs in Iran. Data were derived from the database of Donation Willing­ness Registries, affiliated to the organ procurement unit of Masih Daneshvari Hospital during March 2007 till March 2008. The number of applications for organ donation was compared bet­ween Ramadan and its previous month, and the socio-economic characteristics of the applicants were compared between those who applied in Ramadan and those who did so in the previous month. In addition, the mean number of daily applications was compared between Ramadan and the other months of the same year. A total of 11528 applications for organ donation cards were registered for the Ramadan of 2007 as opposed to 4538 applications in the previous month, sho­wing an increasing rate of 154%. The mean number of daily applications was significantly higher in Ramadan than that of the other months of the same year (P< 0.001). There was also a significant difference in terms of the socio-economic characteristics between the applicants in Ramadan and those in the previous month. The increase in organ donation willingness in Ramadan may be the result of the propagation of altruism by the mass media and religious organizations. Ramadan seems to provide a great opportunity to promote organ donation across the Muslim world.

How to cite this article:
Najafizadeh K, Ghorbani F, Hamidinia S, Emamhadi MA, Moinfar MA, Ghobadi O, Assari S. Holy month of Ramadan and increase in organ donation willingness. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2010;21:443-6

How to cite this URL:
Najafizadeh K, Ghorbani F, Hamidinia S, Emamhadi MA, Moinfar MA, Ghobadi O, Assari S. Holy month of Ramadan and increase in organ donation willingness. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Aug 10];21:443-6. Available from: https://www.sjkdt.org/text.asp?2010/21/3/443/62720

   Introduction Top

Most major religions advocate the concept of organ donation. [1],[2] Indeed, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism all sanction the ca­daveric transplantation of organs. On the other hand, the practice is forbidden by religions like Shinto in Japan [3],[4] and discouraged by Native Americans, Roma Gypsies, Confucians, and some Orthodox rabbis. [5]

Most religions share similarities as regards organ donation. Not only do they not prohibit transplantation from deceased and non-heart­beating donors and xenotransplantation, but they also permit cross-over donations. Moreover, the majority of major religions do not formally oblige one to donate as "a religious duty", and nor do they formally obligate one to consider cadaveric organs "a societal resource". [5]

Many religions deem organ donation an act of charity, benevolence, and altruism through which lives are saved; and some such as Islam stipulate that saving the life of a living person takes precedence over the sacredness of the deceased person. While the need to honor the sacredness of the body is an integral part of the public interest, it is essential that the health of the members of the society be given priority. [6]

We herein report the impact of the holy month of Ramadan on willingness to donate organs in Iran, where 99% of the population is Muslim.

   Materials and Methods Top

This retrospective study utilized the data on the organ donor cards issued by a single center (Masih Daneshvari Hospital) in the Iranian ca­pital, Tehran. Funded by the National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, theorgan procurement unit of this hospital is one of the most active in the country.

The information on the applicants for organ donation cards was extracted from www.ehda.ir, where volunteers can obtain pertinent facts about organ donation and transplantation and fill out a form, should they choose to do so, in order to receive it via mail free of charge. The information provided by the applicant whether online or by telephone or in person comprises name, surname, father's name, sex, birth certifi­cate number, National Identification Code, place of birth, date of birth, education level, occupa­tion, telephone number, and postal address, as well as the organs to be donated including:

1) all organs and tissues and

2) heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

The databank is updated weekly. This net­work is part of the Iranian Organ Procurement Network, directly supervised by the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education's Organ Transplantation Management Center. The network was established in 2002 and currently boasts 200716 organ donation card holders (44% men, 56% women, 57% < 25 years of age, and 43% > 25 years old).

For data analysis, we drew upon the data on the number of daily and monthly organ dona­tion applications. The socio-economic characteristics of the applicants in Ramadan were compared with those who applied in the pre­vious month using the X 2 and independent sample t-test. The mean number of daily appli­cations was compared between Ramadan and the other months of the same year using the independent sample t-test. A P-value less than 0.05 was considered significant.

   Results Top

A total of 11528 applications for organ dona­tion cards were registered for the Ramadan of 2007 as opposed to 4538 applications in the previous month, showing an increasing rate of 154%. The mean number of daily applications was significantly higher in Ramadan than that of the other months of the same year (P< 0.001). There was also a significant difference between those who applied in Ramadan and those who did so in the previous month with respect to the patterns of gender, age, and edu­cation level (P< 0.001).

[Table 1] presents the differences between Ra­madan and the other months of the same year in terms of the number of daily applications and also the socio-economic characteristics of the registered persons.

   Discussion Top

According to the current study, organ dona­tion willingness in Iran rises sharply during Ramadan. The fact that Iran is a predominantly Muslim country may play a significant role in this considerable increase since a great deal of attention is paid to religious teachings, duties, and observances in the holy month of Rama­dan. Indeed, there is a substantial surge in the delivery of religious sermons by the mass me­dia and Islamic clerics during this holiest month of the year for Muslims.

With respect to role of the former, the lite­rature contains a whole host of research on the positive impact of public education through the mass media on raising awareness about issues such as organ donation. [7],[8],[9],[10],[11] In regard to the role of the latter, it should be noted that faith-based organizations are regarded as community-based health promotion institutes [12] on account of their influence on their members' attitudes and be­haviors at multiple levels. An optimal result can be achieved if a collaborative partnership is forged among these organizations so that they could be directly involved in program design and implementation. After all, health interven­tions that incorporate spiritual and cultural contextualization are believed to be capable of bringing a great deal of influence to bear on a variety of health behaviors. [13] In short, religious institutions are a potent tool for health promo­tion because their teachings are embraced by a large body of people; these institutions should, accordingly, be encouraged to join forces with academic institutions to dispel myths and mis­conceptions as regards transplantation. [12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22]

The chief principles of the major religions that promote organ donation are the same as those drawn upon by the religious jurisprudents that have contributed to the legalization of organ transplantation. In the case of Islam, these tenets include altruism, cooperation, see­king remedies, and the value of the human being. Altruism is strongly advocated by Islam; Muslims are encouraged to put the interests of their fellow Muslims before their own. Seeking remedies is stoutly advocated by Islam as a means of preserving the health and safety of the body. And finally, the value of the human being is underscored by the Koranic verses that proclaim man as the vicegerent of Allah on the earth. In light of the foregoing precepts, it could be cogently argued that organ dona­tion can embody all the positive attributes that a Muslim should possess and that saving hu­man life takes precedence over whatever assu­med harm would befall the corpse. [23],[24]

It is virtually impossible to determine the exact cause of the sizeable rise in the altruistic gesture of organ donation during Ramadan in our study. Be that as it may, the Islamic clergy and the mass media can draw upon the Islamic precepts to promote organ donation willing­ness during Ramadan, when Muslims are more likely to take heed of religious teachings.

   References Top

1.Habgood J, Spagnolo AG, Sgreccia E, et al. Organ and tissue donation for transplantation., 1997:24.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Vathsala A. Improving cadaveric organ dona­tion rates in kidney and liver transplantation in Asia. Transplant Proc 2004; 36(7):1873-5.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Pande GK, Patnaik PK, Gupta S, Sahni P. Brain death and organ transplantation in India. New Delhi: Nat Med J India; 1990:30.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Einollahi B, Nourbala MH, Bahaeloo-Horeh S, Assari S, Lessan-Pezeshki M, Simforoosh. Deceased-donor kidney transplantation in Iran: trends, barriers and opportunities. Indian J Med Ethics 2007;4(2):70-2.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Bruzzone P. Religious aspects of organ trans­plantation. Transplant Proc 2008;40(4):1064-7.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.Albar MA. Islamic ethics of organ transplan­tation and brain death. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 1996;7(2):109-14.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Slapak M. Organ donation: Transplant Games, the "Island Effect," and other successful methods. Transplant Proc 1997;29(7):3047-9.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Aswad S, Souqiyyeh MZ, Huraib S. The role of the media in cadaver transplantation in a developing country. Transplant Proc 1992;24 (5):2049-50  Back to cited text no. 8      
9.Garcia VD, Goldani JC, Neumann J. Mass media and organ donation. Transplant Proc 1997;29(1-2):1618-21  Back to cited text no. 9      
10.Servino E, Nathan H, Wolf JS. Unified stra­tegy for public education in organ and tissue donation. Transplant Proc 1997;29(8):3247  Back to cited text no. 10      
11.Miles P, Callender CO. Community education and empowerment key to increased minority donation rates. Transplant Proc 1997;29(8): 3756-7.  Back to cited text no. 11      
12.Goldmon MV, Roberson JT Jr. Churches, aca­demic institutions, and public health: Partner­ships to eliminate health disparities. N C Med J 2004;65(6):368-72.  Back to cited text no. 12      
13.Campbell MK, Hudson MA, Resnicow K, Blakeney N, Paxton A, Baskin M. Church based health promotion interventions: Evi­dence and lessons learned. Ann Rev Public Health 2007;28:213-34.  Back to cited text no. 13      
14.Peterson J, Atwood JR, Yates B. Key elements for church-based health promotion programs: Outcome-based literature review. Public Health Nurs 2002;19(6):401-11.  Back to cited text no. 14      
15.Duan N, Fox SA, Derose KP, Carson S. Main­taining mammography adherence through telephone counseling in a church-based trial. Am J Public Health 2000;90(9):1468-71.  Back to cited text no. 15      
16.Fox SA, Stein JA, Gonzalez RE, Farrenkopf M; Dellinger, A. A trial to increase mammo­graphy utilization among Los Angeles His­panic women. J Health Care Poor Underserved 1998;9(3):309-21.  Back to cited text no. 16      
17.Sauaia A, Dauchot CP, Borrayo EA, Leyba J, Gallo SM, Kramer A. The Tepeyac Project: a church-based approach to increase breast cancer screening among Latinas in Colorado. Conference proceeding from the 9th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Cancer, Intercultural Cancer Council.2004 Mar 24-28; Washington, DC.  Back to cited text no. 17      
18.Castro FG, Elder J, Coe K, et al. Mobilizing churches for health promotion in Latino communities: Companeros en la Salud. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 1995;18:127-35.  Back to cited text no. 18  [PUBMED]    
19.Davis DT, Bustamante A, Brown CP, et al. The urban church and cancer control: A source of social influence in minority communities. Public Health Rep 1994;109(4):500-6.  Back to cited text no. 19      
20.Stockdale SE, Keeler E, Duan N, Derose KP, Fox SA. Costs and cost-effectiveness of a church-based intervention to promote mam­mography screening. Health Serv Res 2000;3 5(5 Pt 1):1037-7.  Back to cited text no. 20      
21.Fox SA, Pitkin K, Paul C, Duan N. Breast can­cer screening adherence: does church atten­dance matter? Health Educ Behav 1998;25 (6):742-58.  Back to cited text no. 21      
22.Derose KP, Hawes-Dawson J, Fox SA, Mal­donado N, Tatum A, Kington R. Dealing with diversity: recruiting churches and women for a randomized trial of mammography promotion. Health Educ Behav 2000;27(5):632-48.  Back to cited text no. 22      
23.El-Shahat. Islamic viewpoint of organ transplantation. Transplant Proc 1999;31(8): 3271-4.  Back to cited text no. 23      
24.Al-Qattan M. The Shariaa Opinion on Organ Transplantation. Prints of the Saudi Centre for Organ Transplantation (SCOT), 1996.  Back to cited text no. 24      

Correspondence Address:
Katayoun Najafizadeh
Lung Transplantation Unit, National Research Institute of TB and Lung Disease, Masih Danesvary Hospital, Darabad, Tehran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20427866

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