Everyone knows what blood is – it is that red liquid that oozes out of your body when you cut yourself. The average person has about 1 to 1 ½ gallons of blood in their body. Blood is considered a liquid organ and is essential for life. It also acts as a transport system.
- Plasma, a yellow fluid, carries blood cells, nutrients, hormones, and proteins to your tissues, organs and cells. Plasma also carries away cell waste.
- Red blood cells bring oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and cells. Oxygen is carried by the hemoglobin on the red blood cells. The hemoglobin gives blood the red color.
- White blood cells help fight infection.
- Platelets are cells that help your body stop bleeding if you get cut. They clump together at the injury site, and form a plug or clot.
Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made in the bone marrow. Within the bone marrow, there are hematopoietic stem cells. These cells stimulate the production of blood cells as needed by the body.
Minor Blood Fractions
Blood can now be processed into four primary components and fractions of those components. Most transfusions are not of whole blood but of one of its primary components:
- Red cells
- White cells
- Plasma (serum), the fluid part.
Jehovah’s Witnesses hold that accepting whole blood or any of those four primary components may violate their personal beliefs. Minor blood fractions are extracted from one of the four primary components, and acceptance is a personal preference based on their personal beliefs. Each Jehovah Witness should decide what minor fractions they are comfortable with accepting. We encourage our Jehovah Witness patients to discuss the administration of minor blood fractions with the Church Elder prior to admission.