DAVID NICHOLLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID NICHOLLS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Blood sample. Computer artwork of human red blood cells (erythrocytes) and a syringe. Red blood cells are biconcave, giving them a large surface area for gas exchange, and highly elastic, enabling them to pass through narrow capillary vessels. The nucleus and other organelles are lost as the cells mature. The cell's interior is packed with haemoglobin, a red iron-containing pigment which has an oxygen- carrying capacity. The main function of red blood cells is to distribute oxygen to body tissues and to carry waste carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Blood samples may be taken to test for a number of disorders and diseases.
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