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Understanding the 3 Types of Blood Cells

Red Blood Cells
Did you know that the average adult human body contains up to 1.5 gallons of blood? Over half of that blood in the human body is made up of a liquid called plasma. The rest is made up of three different kinds of cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These cells are considered the solid part of blood, with each of them performing a different function.
If you have ever thought about donating blood, you should have a basic understanding of the three types of blood cells.

1. Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most common type of blood cell. In fact, one drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells. According to the Stanford Blood Center, up to 2 million red blood cells are produced and then released into the body's circulatory system each second. After about 120 days, specialized cells in the spleen and liver called macrophages remove the old and damaged RBCs from circulation.
Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the body. When the human body doesn't have enough red blood cells, it results in a condition called anemia, which can make you feel dizzy, fatigued, or lightheaded.
There are five primary types of anemia:
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Normocytic anemia
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Fanconi anemia
You may be at a higher risk of becoming anemic if you are genetically predisposed to the condition, but you also could be at risk if you have a poor diet or certain chronic conditions.

2. White Blood Cells

This type of blood cell is commonly known as a leukocyte. Along with being stored in the blood, white blood cells (WBCs) are also stored in the body's lymphatic tissues and the spleen. Known as immunity cells, WBCs protect the body from illness and disease.
A drop of blood contains thousands of white blood cells. According to Science Daily the body produces 10 billion white blood cells each day, with each cell only lasting up to three days. There are five types of white blood cells, including:
  • Monocytes
  • Lymphocytes
  • Neutrophils
  • Basophils
  • Eosinophils
While white blood cells protect the body from disease, each of these different types does it in a different way. For instance, monocytes, which are the largest types of white blood cells, are responsible for getting rid of cells that are sick or infected.
Of all the types of WBCs, neutrophils are the most prevalent in the body. Their primary function is to kill bacteria and fungi. When the body doesn't have enough white blood cells, or it has too many, it often results in a weakened immune system, infection, cancer, or another type of medical disorder.

3. Platelets

Like white and red blood cells, this type of blood cell also gets produced by bone marrow. Their primary function is to help the blood to clot. Unlike red and white blood cells, the body contains a very tiny amount of platelets.
Normal platelet counts are between 150,000 and 400,000. A low platelet count causes a condition called thrombocytopenia, which means the blood can't clot as quickly as it should, causing the body to easily bruise or bleed.

Blood Donation

When someone chooses to donate whole blood, it includes the plasma and all three types of blood cells. The process takes about one hour. Some people wish to donate only certain types of blood cells, which can be done, but the process often takes longer.
If you want to know more about how to donate blood, or how to donate a specific type of blood cell, contact Key Biologics, LLC. We would be happy to answer your questions and also tell you about our donor screening process.