Something that can only be called a gift of god but bestowed by humans too in life threatening situations, the blood components make up an extraordinary story. Everybody in general and doctors and surgeons in particular need to understand the blood processes. Emergency treatment often requires blood transfusions and the right type of matching blood may be lacking. Blood banks do maintain quotas of the precious liability. Hemoglobin is the chief constituent. Several diseases arise like anemia that is the reduced hemoglobin in the blood as a result of which enough oxygen supply does not reach the body. Polycythemia is the result when hemoglobin is very high and blood clots easily and may result in a stroke. Blood infections could arise and may require antibiotics. Besides, the blood can carry disease like HIV.
Probably everybody is aware of the constituents of that precious fluid that perpetually circulates our veins and arteries. We learnt them in school. Blood components are a mere four in number that appears simple enough but still waters can be far reaching indeed. Also called erythrocytes or hemoglobin, red blood cells that impart the distinctive color constitute as much as 40% of the blood mass. The hemoglobin protein brings the redness and that is why blood can carry the life supporting oxygen that we inhale through the nose and distribute via the lungs. In fact RBCs can carry carbon dioxide too. So RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs and bring carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled. Oxygen brings energy and carbon dioxide is the waste material.
Also called leukocytes, white blood cells come next in the list of blood components. Leucopenia indicates the phenomenon of very low WBCs that raises the greater possibility of infections. Leukocytosis on the other hand means excessive WBCs that may indicate the presence of infection. Leukemia or cancers in the bone marrow could be another possibility. We should be grateful to leukocytes that are far fewer than their red brethren but protect the body against infection. Further, WBCs are found in five different kinds with appropriate functions. The most abundant are neutrophils that protect through the ingestion of bacteria and alien debris. Next come lymphocytes in three types. The T cells and natural killer cells both protect against viral infections. They detect and destroy cancer cells too. B cells produce antibodies. They are also referred to as T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes.
To continue with the list of blood components, monocytes continue the task of defense against infections. have the ability to kills cancerous cells and respond to allergies. Basophils like eosinophils respond to allergic conditions. We have seen that all the six constituents of WBC have some role in protecting the body and responding to attacks of various kinds. Some WBCs flow in the bloodstream while others stick to the walls and enter tissues. When an infection occurs, WBCs reach the site and attract more WBCs. How do the WBCs really work? They digest the harmful organisms and produce antibodies too like a miniature commando operation.
Half the blood volume and principally containing water, plasma is the liquid like substance that holds RBS, WBCs and platelets. Albumin is the protein that binds blood and prevents leakage. Albumin carries hormones and some drugs too. Plasma also contains electrolytes and antibodies that fight against virus, bacteria, fungi and clotting that concerns bleeding. Blood components are truly versatile and plasma serves other functions, absorbing water and restoring water in tissues as required. Plasma maintains blood pressure and regulates body temperature, supplying heat to the arms and the extremities. Have you heard of thrombocytes, the platelets that are smaller, fewer that help in the clotting process when bleeding takes place?