There is nothing that more people have in common than blood. Blood can mean life as well as death to man. Blood is life when an anaemic patient needs one or two pints to live. It means life when it is a source of wealth for a person or an organisation that trades in blood transfusion business.

Blood is the major source of transmission of deadly infections like human immune deficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis Viruses, etc. It can mean death to a haemophilic, a person with the bleeding disorder called haemophilia. Any of the several hereditary illnesses that impair the body's ability to control bleeding, usually passed from mother to son. Also known as bleeders diseases.

It can also mean hell, to our dear ladies, who have to bleed continuously for approximately five days every month – sixty days in a year (more than two months in a year). It is believed that blood lost after a complete menstrual cycle is estimated to between 60 to 120 millilitres. This can save a dying child.

Blood is made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma is made of water, salts and protein. The solid part of the blood contains red blood cells and platelets. It is a fluid present in the body of humans and animals. It delivers nutrients to various part of the body and enables the continuous activities that goes on in the body. It is a bodily fluid that circulate through the blood vessels through the pumping action of the heart.

In animals with lungs, arterial blood carries oxygen from inhaled air to the tissues of the body, and venous blood carries carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism produced by cells, from the tissues to the lungs to be exhaled.
Blood is a bodily fluid that supplies essential substances around the body, such as sugars, oxygen, and hormones. It also helps the body to get rid of waste.

It is an important constituents in the body that supply oxygen to the tissues, circulation of blood cells, regulation of blood cells, transportation of hormones, coagulation of broken vessels and for hydraulic functions.

Blood cells are made in the bone marrow i.e. the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are generated in the bone marrow of every vertebrates. During childhood, almost every human bone produces red blood cells, but in adulthood it is limited to the large bones in the body.
The rate of flow of blood varies greatly between different organs. Liver receives the most abundant supply of blood, followed by the kidney and then the brain.

Over half of blood in the body is plasma; it services as a transport media for the solid component to perform it functions. Through the plasma, the red blood cells (RBC) delivers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and the body organs. White blood cells (WBC) also fight infection and plays a vital role in human immune system. Platelets helps the blood to clot when there is cut or wound.

Every red blood cell has a 120 days lifespan, platelets have 6 days lifespan and the white blood cells lives with a period of a day. Since blood cells have lifespan, there is a need for production of blood by the body. The bone marrow, a spongy material inside the bone, makes new blood cells. Blood is bright red when its haemoglobin is oxygenated and dark red when it is deoxygenated.
Blood is categorised into A, B, AB & O type respectively; and they are either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. Knowing your blood type is important for blood transfusion. The Rh factor is important in child bearing – incompatibility between mother and child could result in a lot of problems.
Blood groups are categorized based on the antibodies and antigens in the cell. Blood groups classify blood based on the presence and absence of certain antibodies.

Many years ago, our ancestors attribute blood related complications to spiritual issues like abominations, curses etc. Today, the knowledge and understanding of blood and it component parts have made it easier and faster to check and diagnose diseases. The property functions of body organs can also be know through blood tests. A lot of life-saving innovations has emerge from a better understanding of blood and its components.

A Full Blood Count (FBC) test gives a doctor important information about the types and numbers of cells in a patient’s blood; especially the red blood cells and their percentage (haematocrit) or protein content (haemoglobin), white blood cells and platelets.

The result of a FBC may diagnose conditions like anaemia, infections and other disorder. The platelets count and plasma clotting tests may be use to evaluate bleeding and clotting disorders. When something is wrong with your blood, it can affect your total health. That is why it is important for you to know about some of the common blood disorders that may affect you.

People may be affected by many different types of blood conditions and blood cancers. Common blood disorders include;

  • Haemorrhage (bleeding): Blood leaking out of blood vessels may be obvious, as from a wound penetrating the skin. Internal bleeding (such as into the intestines, or after a car accident) may not be immediately apparent.
  • Hematoma: A collection of blood inside the body tissues. Internal bleeding often causes a hematoma.
  • Leukaemia: A form of blood cancer, in which white blood cells multiply abnormally and circulate through the blood. The abnormal white blood cells make getting sick from infections easier than normal.
  • Multiple myeloma: A form of blood cancer of plasma cells similar to leukaemia. Anaemia, kidney failure and high blood calcium levels are common in multiple myeloma.
  • Lymphoma: A form of blood cancer, in which white blood cells multiply abnormally inside lymph nodes and other tissues. The enlarging tissues, and disruption of blood's functions, can eventually cause organ failure.
  • Anaemia: An abnormally low number of red blood cells in the blood. Fatigue and breathlessness can result, although anaemia often causes no noticeable symptoms.
  • Haemolytic anaemia: Anaemia caused by rapid bursting of large numbers of red blood cells (haemolysis). An immune system malfunction is one cause.
  • Hemochromatosis: A disorder causing excessive levels of iron in the blood. The iron deposits in the liver, pancreas and other organs, causing liver problems and diabetes.
  • Sickle cell disease: A genetic condition in which red blood cells periodically lose their proper shape (appearing like sickles, rather than discs). The deformed blood cells deposit in tissues, causing pain and organ damage.
  • Bacteraemia: Bacterial infection of the blood. Blood infections are serious, and often require hospitalization and continuous antibiotic infusion into the veins.
  • Malaria: Infection of red blood cells by Plasmodium, a parasite transmitted by mosquitos. Malaria causes episodic fevers, chills, and potentially organ damage.
  • Thrombocytopenia: Abnormally low numbers of platelets in the blood. Severe thrombocytopenia may lead to bleeding.
  • Leukopenia: Abnormally low numbers of white blood cells in the blood. Leukopenia can result in difficulty fighting infections.
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC): An uncontrolled process of simultaneous bleeding and clotting in very small blood vessels. DIC usually results from severe infections or cancer.
  • Haemophilia: An inherited (genetic) deficiency of certain blood clotting proteins. Frequent or uncontrolled bleeding can result from haemophilia.
  • Hypercoagulable state: Numerous conditions can result in the blood being prone to clotting. A heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in the legs or lungs can result.
  • Polycythaemia: Abnormally high numbers of red blood cells in the blood. Polycythaemia can result from low blood oxygen levels, or may occur as a cancer-like condition.
  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT): A blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg. DVTs are dangerous because they may become dislodged and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE).
  • Myocardial infarction (MI): Commonly called a heart attack, a myocardial infarction occurs when a sudden blood clot develops in one of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

·         Nine Pints: A journey through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of blood. By Rose George.
·, blood
·, blood
·         Blood basic:
·         American Society of Haematology journal.
·, blood.

©Okunola Peace.