Could You Live Without Your Spleen?

Your spleen is a large organ inside your body, next to your stomach. But it’s actually attached not to your digestive system, but to your blood stream.

Scientists have already discovered some of the spleen’s functions, but they’re not sure they’ve found them all. They do know that the spleen helps make new red blood cells, especially during childhood, and also produces certain kinds of white blood cells that help fight disease.

The most important function of the spleen is not in producing blood cells, though, but in destroying them. Each second, millions of red blood cells are destroyed and replaced in your body. The used blood cells are broken down in the spleen and thereby removed from the blood stream.

The strange thing about the spleen is that while it seems to be an important body organ, it can be removed if it becomes diseased, and the body will continue to work just as it did before! When a spleen is removed, the liver takes over the job of destroying red blood cells.