The value of blood as a life-safer and life-sustainer has been appreciated from the earliest times in the history of mankind. In fact, our ancestors recognized the value of blood perhaps more than we do today. Sacrifices, now and in the past, are performed to spill the blood of an animal and thereby appease the angry gods.
The conventional symbol of blood is red, and this generally signifies the danger that might follow the spilling of blood through accident or violence. The red flag of revolutionaries is purported to be symbolic of the blood spilled by heroes during popular uprisings.
Scientifically, blood is the agent that carries the vitalizing agent oxygen to all tissues of the body, and carries carbon dioxide from the tissues for excretion in the lungs. Blood is given to hospital patients in order that they may not die from excessive bleeding or from severe anemia.
Such is the value and importance of blood to all animal and human life that this list could continue indefinitely. Yet all such value and significance can be attributed mainly to tiny particles in blood –the red blood cells.
They are so minute that they cannot be seen by the naked eye and yet no mammalian life is possible without them. Their recognition requires at least the magnification afforded by light microscopy.
The average red blood cell is shaped like a biconcave disk measuring 7 microns in diameter. It has a volume of 90 femtoliters and contains 30 picograms of hemoglobin. About five million of these tiny elements are in a microliter of blood, and nearly 300 microliters make up a drop of blood!
One dares not therefore attempt to calculate the number of red cells present in an average milliliter or cubic centimeter of blood –and even more frightening, the number of cells in one pint or 500 milliliters of blood, the conventional unit of collection and transfusion of blood.
FLEXIBLE CELL WALL
Each particle has a cell wall made up of fat [phospholipid] and protein in such a way that fluid cannot enter or exit from the cell unless there is a break in the continuity of the cell wall or if the cell is placed in a solution which is either weaker or stronger than its internal fluid environment.
The cell wall is flexible, a characteristic which enables the blood cell to squeeze through tiny blood vessels, some of which have diameter smaller than its own.
The cell wall encloses a cytoplasm which contains, among other things, enzymes which break down glucose, and thus produce energy in the process to aid the cell’s activity. And more importantly, the cell contains hemoglobin, a red pigment containing iron, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs, and thence to the outside world, as mentioned earlier.
It is, in fact, this pigment which makes the red cell unique among the cells of the body. Its importance cannot be overemphasized, as it is the life line of the individual.
One gram of hemoglobin carries approximately 1.34 millimeters of oxygen. A normal hemoglobin level in average adult is around 15 grams per 100 millimeters of blood. Every minute the heart pumps about 5 liters of blood around the body in an average-sized man, the equivalent of 750 *1.34 milliliters of oxygen –to the tissues of the body per minute.
VALUE OF HEMOGLOBIN
The physiological value of hemoglobin as an oxygen carrier lies in its affinity for oxygen, which is so nicely balanced that hemoglobin becomes 95-96% oxygenated in the lungs, while in the tissues and capillaries, it can give up as much of the gas as is demanded.
If the affinity were much less, complete oxygenation in the lungs could not be approached; if it were greater, the tissues would difficulty in removing from the blood the oxygen they need. Thus, both oxyhemoglobin and reduced hemoglobin exist in all parts of circulation but in greatly varying proportions.
The hemoglobin that is freed after release of oxygen picks up carbon dioxide produced in the tissues as part of the tissues’ waste products of metabolism. The carbon dioxide combines with the hemoglobin to from carbonxyhemoglobin which travels in the veins back to the lungs, where the carbon dioxide is released by enzyme activity, and hemoglobin is once again free to take oxygen back to the tissues from the lungs.
The cycle then continues, with oxygen coming into the lungs with each breath we take and carbon dioxide being expelled with each exhalation. Red cells are produced in the bone marrow and require iron, folic acid, and vitamins among other things for normal function.
When the diet is persistently low in these elements, the hemoglobin content of the red cell becomes low and the situation called ANEMIA ensues. On the other hand, some people are born with red cells containing abnormal hemoglobins, such as in sickle cell anemia, and Thalassemia.
Scientists using newer and more sophisticated tools have now described hundreds and hundreds of abnormal hemoglobins. Techniques used in these discoveries include electrophoresis, genetic studies, isotopy, x-ray diffraction studies, and “finger printing” of hemoglobins, to name a few.
To the mystic, the air we breathe contains, quite apart from the oxygen we have been discussing, the positive aspect of Nous, viz., the vital life force. This comes into human body with the first breath of the newborn baby. Apparently every subsequent breath replenishes it.
Basically, however, the red cells are negatively charged, whereas the vital life force is positively charged. By the law of polarity, the negatively charged particle has an irresistible affinity for the positively charged force. So the vital life force in the air we breathe into the lungs passes from the lung air spaces to the red blood cells circulating in the blood vessels.
In conclusion, we might like to remind ourselves that each cell of the body is a unique entity that has a psychic and a physical part. It is probable that the oxygen vitalizes the physical part and the vital life force vitalizes the psychic aspect of each cell.
It is incontrovertible that the particle which coordinates the supply of both the oxygen and the vital life force to the tissue cells must be unique. The red blood cell is truly a “miracle particle.”