Scientists have discovered that the spleen, long consigned to the B-list of abdominal organs and known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected - Natalie Angier
image by: Matt The Electrician
On a crisp New England fall day, college freshman Jordan Taylor was playing Ultimate Frisbee when he collided with another player. Taylor was rushed to the hospital, where doctors realized he'd been hit hard enough to tear the delicate covering of his spleen, and he was bleeding internally. A quick surgery fixed the spleen, but doctors saw something strange while they were operating.
"As the doctor was speaking to me post-surgery, he mentioned he'd noticed I had a bunch of extra spleens," Taylor says. We asked if the additional organs gave him spleeny superpowers.
No, alas. But "now I have a pretty good fun fact for when I meet new people," he says. "Never fails to get…
"As far as we know, the spleen is the only organ that can do this," says Shatz. Even livers, with their impressive regenerative powers, can't replicate like a spleen.
The spleen is the largest organ in the lymphatic system. It is an important organ for keeping bodily fluids balanced, but it is possible to live without it.
The spleen is part of your lymphatic system, which fights infection and keeps your body fluids in balance. It contains white blood cells that fight germs. Your spleen also helps control the amount of blood in your body, and destroys old and damaged cells. Certain diseases might cause your spleen to swell.
Some people are born without a spleen or need to have it removed because of illness or injury. The spleen is a fist-sized organ in the upper left side of your abdomen, next to your stomach and behind your left ribs. It's an important part of your immune system, but you can survive without it. This is because the liver can take over many of the spleen's functions.
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