The Splendid Spleen

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Do you know what your spleen is? Do you know where your spleen is?

I’ll confess that, prior to reading an article about it, I had heard of the spleen—meaning I knew it was in my body somewhere—but I had no idea where or why it was there.

Turns out the spleen is a pretty amazing organ. It has several functions having to do with the blood. About 4% of our blood is passing through the spleen at any given moment. It stores blood platelets, approximately one-third of the body’s platelets to be exact (those things that help your blood coagulate so you don’t bleed to death from a paper cut). It filters our blood for microorganisms and other foreign particles. And it also removes damaged and worn-out red blood cells.

Red blood cells circulate through our bodies for about 120 days before they wear out. The walls of the spleen are specially designed to detect and remove these worn-out cells, along with any defective ones. For this reason, getting into the spleen is easier than getting out. Red blood cells wanting to leave the spleen must squeeze through the walls of special blood vessels, called sinusoids. These blood vessels have elongated walls with small openings. To pass through, the red blood cell has to squeeze so tightly that both sides of the cell membrane touch. If any red blood cell shows a lack of flexibility or an abnormality during this process, it is destroyed by nearby cells. The iron is then recycled to make new red blood cells. God invented recycling before we did!

While you can live without a spleen (your liver can take up much of its functions), medical science makes it clear that God designed this organ for several specific purposes to help with our blood. He even made sure it was well protected—on the left side of our body, under the rib cage and tucked behind our stomach—because an injury to this organ would cause massive bleeding. Thank you Lord for Your creative genius displayed inside of us.

Reference: Menton, David. “The Mysterious Spleen.” Answers Magazine. Oct.-Dec. 2011, vol. 6 (4) p. 68-71

Photo Credit: ID 30057931 © Decade3d | Dreamstime.com
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