What does the spleen do?
Located to the left of the stomach, this purple, fist-shaped organ acts as a supporting organ to many roles in the body. Though it is important, the liver can take over many of its functions in case one needs to get it removed. It is made of two types of tissue: white pulp and red pulp, both of which play key roles in the health of our blood. White pulp is responsible for the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) which produce antibodies. Red pulp filters the blood, monitors red blood cells, reserves white blood cells and platelets, and contains white blood cells (phagocytes) that fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Here is a summary of the spleen’s functions:
- Recycles old red blood cells
- Stores white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes)
- Produces lymphocytes which produce antibodies
- Removes damaged or old red blood cells
- Regulates blood cells (red cells, white cells, and platelets)
- Effective against fighting pneumonia, meningitis, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib; makes one more susceptible to meningitis, skin and blood infections)