Spleen

The spleen is located in the upper left part of our abdomen, tucked under the rib cage.  It removes old red blood cells from circulation, and is a main organ of our immune system.  As such, lots of blood runs through it, so if it gets ruptured in an accident, you can die.  Sometimes the bleeding is brisk, but sometimes it just oozes slowly, so if you’re injured in that part of your body & have ongoing pain, cal 911 to get to an ER ASAP.

We can live without a spleen, but will be at risk for overwhelming sepsis from certain bacterial infections.  As such, everyone whose spleen has been removed should be vaccinated against Streptococcus pneumoniae (“pneumococcus”), Haemophilus influenzae (“H. flu”) and Neisseria meningitides (“meningococcus”).  If you got these as a child, get a booster.  Even if you’re vaccinated, if you get a fever, seek care immediately just in case.  This is also true for people whose spleens don’t work well due to diseases like Sickle Cell or Spherocytosis, etc.

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