Overview of Blood Transfusion System of Iran: 2002-2011

By Cheraghali, A. M. | Iranian Journal of Public Health, August 1, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Overview of Blood Transfusion System of Iran: 2002-2011

Cheraghali, A. M., Iranian Journal of Public Health


Despite importance of blood transfusion services as life saving procedures, some countries are unable to meet their national requirements for blood and blood components in a timely manner. Since establishment of Iran Blood Transfusion Organization (IBTO) in 1974 as an integral part of national health system, Iran has experienced a drastic improvement both in availability and safety of blood and blood products. Iran now has not only reached to a 100% non remunerated voluntary blood donation but also secured a national self sufficiency of blood and blood components. Efforts of IBTO as the sole player of transfusion medicines in Iran enabled the country for timely providing of life saving blood transfusion services for all Iranian patients in need of such services. In order to meet the country's demand in 2011 about 2 million units of whole blood for a population of about 75 million collected by IBTO. This indicates 26.2 donations per 1000 population. Currently about 94% of blood donors in Iran are 25-35 years old males and contribution of female donors in blood donation is less than 6%. IBTO screen all donated blood for important transfusion transmissible infections such as HBV, HIV, HCV and syphilis. Prevalence of HBsAg, HCV and HIV in donated blood in IBTO in 2011 was 0.20%, 0.06% and 0.004% respectively.

Keywords: Iran Blood Transfusion Organization, Blood safety, Blood donation


Iran, a country with a population of about 75 millions, is one of the most populated countries of the Middle East. Due to substantial investments by the government of Iran on health care system in past decades the country now enjoys a fairly advanced health system infrastructure. Iran has a primary healthcare network covering the entire population of the country. Iran Ministry of Health (MOH) is the responsible body for providing and regulating health care services for the nation. This includes services related to the transfusion medicine.

Blood transfusion is an essential component of health care which worldwide saves millions of lives each year. Despite encouraging results, researches are not able to introduce artificial substitutes that can routinely replace the need for donated human blood. Therefore, blood and blood components are still required for the management of patients suffering from cancer, blood diseases, trauma and emergencies. In some countries, transfusion is mostly used to support advanced medical and surgical procedures e.g. cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery and transplantation. However, in developing countries majority of blood is used to treat trauma cases, women with obstetric emergencies and children suffering from severe anemia and malnutrition. Therefore, lack of access to sufficient quantities of safe blood and its components may compromise the obvious right of patients to health care. While the need for blood is universal, millions of patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood and there is also a major imbalance between developing and high income countries in access to safe blood.

According to WHO statistics (1) about 48% of around 92 million blood donations which are collected annually worldwide from all types of blood donors (voluntary, family/replacement and paid) collected in high-income countries. These countries are home to about 15% of the world's population. On the other hand residents of 43 countries in the African region with more than 12% of world population reported collecting only 4 million units of blood (represents for 4.3% of global donations). Although in 62 countries including Iran, national blood supplies are based on 100% voluntary unpaid blood donations, in 40 countries less than 25% of their national blood supplies donated by voluntary blood donors (2).

In Iran blood transfusion is an integral part of the national health system. Blood donation is voluntary and unpaid and blood and its components may not be a source of income.

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