By means of rapid and astonishing advances in science and technology, every day we witness amazing discoveries related to the mechanisms in the human body. Have you ever thought that your heart beats about 100,000 times a day to pump thousands of liters of blood? And what about the fact that during a person's life span blood travels hundreds of thousands of miles? Do you ever wonder how your blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells by means of chemical reactions without asking you how to do it?
Blood is a highly specialized tissue circulating throughout the body to carry out essential functions for an organism. Some of the basic functions of blood can be listed as: warming or cooling the body, protecting it against infectious disease, supplying essential ingredients to the cells, getting rid of harmful and unwanted waste from cells, and carrying messengers to initiate physiochemical events at the cellular level.1 An average adult has approximately five liters of blood which completes its cycle in several minutes.2 Blood can be regarded as a flawless servant to human beings with a perfect design to fulfill delicate needs and tasks to maintain their lives. If blood stopped performing just one of these tasks in some way, the survival of humans would not be possible.
Plasma is one of the main components of human blood in which the red and white blood cells are suspended.3 These two “living cells” are responsible for the crucial job of maintaining the balance of the body. Blood cells have a definite life cycle, just as all living organisms do. The most generous and all-compassionate owner, God, even knows the needs of the tiniest creatures and for Him to recreate these two cells is as easy as resurrecting hundreds of thousands of fruits, vegetables and animals every spring. Interestingly, bone marrow acts as a factory to reproduce new blood cells in place of continuously dying cells.3
In order to generate energy required for all cellular processes, oxygen has to be carried into the cell and the resulting carbon dioxide should be carried away immediately. Red blood cells, known also as erythrocytes, contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin which performs this duty in an excellent way. Each red blood cell contains approximately 250 million hemoglobin molecules.4
Hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and carries carbon dioxide away from the body to the lungs by consecutive chemical events in harmony. Hemoglobin can bind oxygen and/or carbon dioxide reversibly and the preference for binding to either oxygen or carbon dioxide depends solely on the environment. Upon inhaling the air, the amount of oxygen will increase in the lungs and oxygen will bind to hemoglobin’s iron unit preferentially. Later, the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood all over the body to deliver it to where it is required. As blood travels through the body in artery veins, oxygen will be exchanged with the carbon dioxide, since the amount of carbon dioxide inside cells is higher than oxygen. Then, the bound carbon dioxide will be sent back to the lungs and this process will be cycled over and over again during the course of life.5 During these processes a lot of complex chemical and biological changes occur in a systematic way to optimize the speed, effectiveness and quantity of oxygen transportation.
Surprisingly, one hemoglobin unit can carry four oxygen molecules at the same time. However binding of four oxygen molecules does not happen at the same time, they rather prefer binding one after another. One of the most striking discoveries about these processes is that when the oxygen attaches itself to the iron in the hemoglobin, the shape of the hemoglobin changes and this phenomenon facilitates binding other oxygen molecules.6
At higher altitudes air contains less oxygen as compared to lower altitudes. In people accustomed to living at higher altitudes the amount of a chemical known as 2,3-BPG in blood was found to be higher than in people living at lower altitudes.6 Researchers showed that this chemical actually binds to hemoglobin to result in easier oxygen delivery in lower oxygen atmospheres. Without this chemical, at high altitudes people would start suffering from oxygen deficiency and some of the vital organs would start dying slowly. It is obvious that this is a decisive and self-evident proof that there is an ultimate power in the universe and He is the one Who is the most Merciful.
Also the hemoglobin in the fetus has a greater affinity for oxygen than its counterpart in adults. Fetal hemoglobin uses maternal oxygen from the mother’s bloodstream and this ability gives the fetus more access to oxygen for better survival.7 Otherwise, no baby would be able to grow fully in its mother’s womb. Divine mercy is aware of the need of even an incapable baby in the mother’s womb and His wisdom and generosity provide appropriate tools, decorations and ornaments to whoever is in need of them.
The human body can be seen as a perfect machine equipped with state-of-art components that functions magnificently to sustain human life without any conflict. It is designed to such an extent that even its slightest needs are satisfied with an amazing design planned by great wisdom and engineering. This beauty, extreme skill, and utmost perfection testify to the existence of the All-Wise Maker and All-Knowing Inscriber. Claiming that this masterpiece is not the work of a purposeful artist is as foolish as claiming that a beautiful painting is not the art of a good painter. Even in one of the sub-structures of red blood cells (hemoglobin) the highest degree of mastery and the exquisiteness of administration for each process show an irrefutable wise Creator who has utmost knowledge and proficiency. His unique power for marvelous creation is even more visible on the surface of the earth.
“He Who has created seven heavens in harmony. You do not see any fault or incongruity in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look yet again: can you see any rifts?” (Mulk 67:3)
Mutations somehow alter the sequences of genes responsible for producing hemoglobin and as a result of inheriting these genes, some kinds of hereditary diseases may occur in future generations, such as thalassemia and sickle-cell.8 Since hemoglobin in these cases does not have the ability to carry oxygen properly, in some extreme cases blood transfusion is necessary to supply healthy hemoglobin for survival of patients. Instead of producing super quality hemoglobin, mutations lead to malfunctioning of the system. No observable mutation can generate meaningful and healthy changes in an organism. Trying to explain the formation of these beautiful, complex, harmonious, and utterly perfect cells by chance or coincidence and attributing the creation of these systems to unconscious nature as their creator is far beyond any reasonable scientific explanation.
“Was he not once a mere drop of semen poured forth? Then he became a clot clinging (to the womb wall), and He created and fashioned (him) in due proportions.” (Qiyama 75:37-38)
Ibrahim Yildiz is a graduate student of chemistry at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.
1. Previte, J. J. Human Physiology McGraw-Hill, 1982.
2. Cecie, S., Taggart, R. Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life. California: Wadsworth, 1989.
3. Jones, B. D. Delmar's Comprehensive Medical Terminology. Thomson Delmar Learning, 2000.
4. Roberts, M. B. V. Biology: A Functional Approach Cheltenham: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1986.
5. Mehler, R. E. How the Circulatory System Works Blackwell , 2000.
6. Ganong, W. F. Review of Medical Physiology McGraw-Hill, 2005.
7. Champe, P. C., Richard, A. H. Biochemistry Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.
8. Steinberg, M. H. Disorders of Hemoglobin: Genetics, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Management. Cambridge University Press, 2001.