Tuesday, July 10, 2007


It is the universal symbol of horror, of death, yet it is the one thing that keeps you living. It is the blood that is coursing through your veins. But, what do you really know about your blood? Why is it’s function so vital? And why is your blood an irreplaceable commodity?

Blood, which appears to us as a flowing red liquid, is amazingly complex. It has two basic components – plasma and solids that are carried in the plasma. Plasma is 91.5 % water. It also contains hundreds of chemicals, such as hormones, sugar, salts, cholesterol, proteins and minerals.

The prime function of blood is as follows:

(1) The red cells in the blood – which give the blood it’s color – are keys to respiration. The oxygen from the lungs travels to the 60 trillion cells of the body via these red blood cells. On the return trip to the lungs, the blood cells carry carbon dioxide, the by-products of the cells energy production.

(2) White blood cells can move about the body to wherever there is a need. They serve as the policemen of the body by invading and fighting any foreign bacteria that could harm the body. Passing through the capillary walls, the white blood cells have powerful enzymes that eat offending bacteria. Pus that forms at the site of an infection is an indication that the white blood cells have been busy. Pus is primarily made of white blood cells and dead bacteria.

(3) Lymphocites are a type of white blood cell that enhances your immunity to infection and bacteria.

(4) Platelets in the blood attach themselves to cuts or abrasions to plug up the wound and stop the bleeding.

(5) Plasma carries our digested food to the cells in our body to be utilised as energy. It delivers carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, salts and vitamins to the areas where they can do the most good. On it’s return, the plasma carries waste products – urea and uric acid – to the kidneys.

(6) If the body is too hot, the capillaries near the skin open and the blood carries excess heat to the surface. When it is cold, the blood stays deeper inside the body and so conserve body heat. The blood, then, helps to regulate our body temperature at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

As we all know, there are various blood types. So far 15 different types of blood have been identified. If transfused blood is not of the right type, a person may die. Yet, as science is discovering, blood type is not the only uniqe factor to be considered. The unique combination of anti-bodies, hormones, proteins make it impossible to match correctly. There is, in fact, a realisation that our blood may be just as unique as our fingerprint.

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