Red Blood Cells & Stardust

October 27, 2010 at 9:30 am


By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Made for Each Other

What does the center of the earth have in common with the center of our Red Blood Cells (RBCs)?? Fe: Iron. The center of the earth is a molten mass of iron and it just so happens that iron is also at the center of all of our hemoglobin molecules. Interesting, no?

In our hemoglobin, iron holds on to oxygen as the RBCs pick it up from our lungs and deliver it to the tissues that need it all over our bodies. Our bodies can’t make iron. We get it from food and our food gets it from the earth. This is the reason why we must wait 56 days between blood donations, so we can replace the iron stores in our bodies. It’s quite the circle of life.

By the way, the earth got its iron from the stars. So our RBCs are most definitely made from stardust, right?