Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, travel through circulating blood
carrying oxygen to body tissues and organs while removing waste. These blood
cells make up the largest part of the blood system.
As the red blood cells in blood travel through the lungs, oxygen
molecules from the lungs attach to the hemoglobin, a protein in the blood cells
that contains iron. The oxygen is then released to tissues and organs, and the
hemoglobin bonds with carbon dioxide and other waste gases. These waste
products are transported away and removed as blood continues to
Millions of red blood cells are contained in a single drop of
blood. Red blood cells are constantly being produced in the bone marrow to
replenish those that gradually wear out and die. The average life of a red
blood cell is about 120 days.
A significant decrease in the number of red blood cells causes
anemia and shortness of breath.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology