« PreviousContinue »
is dry, solid matter ; three quarters water. Of the 21 parts of dry solids, 12 (= 4ths) belong to the corpuscles. The remaining 9 are about two-thirds (6-7 parts ths) albumin (a substance like white of egg, coagulating by heat), and one-third (= 4th of the whole solid matter) a mixture of saline, fatty, and saccharine matters, sundry products of the waste of the body, and fibrin. The quantity of the latter constituent is remarkably small in relation to the conspicuous part it plays in the act of coagulation. Healthy blood, in fact, yields in coagulating not more than from two to four parts in a thousand of its weight of fibrin.
The total quantity of gaseous matter contained in the blood is equal to rather less than half the volume of the blood ; that is to say, 100 cubic inches of blood will contain rather less than 50 cubic inches of gases. These gaseous matters are carbonic acid, oxygen, and nitrogen ; or, in other words, the same gases as those which exist in the atmosphere, but in totally different proportions; for whereas air contains nearly three-fourths nitrogen, onefourth oxygen, and a mere trace of carbonic acid, the average composition of the blood gases is nearly twothirds carbonic acid, rather less than one-third oxygen, and not one-tenth nitrogen.
It is important to observe that blood contains much more oxygen gas than could be held in solution by pure water at the same temperature and pressure. This power of holding oxygen appears in some way to depend upon the corpuscles, firstly, because mere serum has no greater power of absorbing oxygen than pure water has; and secondly, because red corpuscles suspended in water instead of serum absorb oxygen very readily. The oxygen thus held by the red corpuscles is readily given up by them for purposes of oxidation, and indeed can be removed from them by means of a mercurial gas pump. It would appear that the connection between the oxygen and the red corpuscles is of a peculiar nature, being a sort of loose chemical combination with one of their constituents, that constituent being the hæmoglobin ; for solutions of hæmoglobin behave towards oxygen exactly as blood does.
The corpuscles differ chemically from the plasma, in containing a large proportion of the fats and phosphates, all the iron, and almost all the potash, of the blood ; while the plasma, on the other hand, contains by far the greater part of the chlorine and the soda.
17. The blood of adults contains a larger proportion of solid constituents than that of children, and that of men more than that of women ; but the difference of sex is hardly at all exhibited by persons of flabby, or what is called lymphatic, constitution.
Animal diet tends to increase the quantity of the red corpuscles ; a vegetable diet and abstinence to diminish them. Bleeding exercises the same influence in a still more marked degree, the quantity of red corpuscles being diminished thereby in a much greater proportion than that of the other solid constituents of the blood.
18. The total quantity of blood contained in the body varies at different times, and the precise ascertainment of its amount is very difficult. It may probably be estimated, on the average, at not less than one-tenth of the weight of the body.
19. The function of the blood is to supply nourishment to, and take away waste matters from, all parts of the body. It is absolutely essential to the life of every part of the body that it should be in such relation with a cur. rent of blood, that matters can pass freely from the blood to it, and from it to the blood, by transudation through the walls of the vessels in which the blood is contained. And this vivifying influence depends upon the corpuscles of the blood. The proof of these statements lies in the following experiments :-If the vessels of a limb of a living animal be tied in such a manner as to cut off the supply of blood from the limb, without affecting it in any other way, all the symptoms of death will set in. The limb will grow pale and cold, it will lose its sensibility, and volition will no longer have power over it ; it will stiffen, and eventually mortify and decompose.
But, even when the death stiffening has begun to set in, if the ligatures be removed, and the blood be allowed to flow into the limb, the stiffening speedily ceases, the temperature of the part rises, the sensibility of the skin returns, the will regains power over the muscles, and, in short, the part returns to its normal condition.
If, instead of simply allowing the blood of the animal operated upon to flow again, such blood, deprived of its fibrin by whipping, but containing its corpuscles, be artificially passed through the vessels, it will be found as effectual a restorative as entire blood ; while, on the other hand, the serum (which is equivalent to whipped blood without its corpuscles) has no such effect.
It is not necessary that the blood thus artificially injected should be that of the subject of the experiment. Men, or dogs, bled to apparent death, may be at once and effectually revived by filling their veins with blood taken from another man, or dog; an operation which is known by the name of transfusion.
Nor is it absolutely necessary for the success of this operation that the blood used in transfusion should belong to an animal of the same species. The blood of a horse will permanently revive an ass, and, speaking generally, the blood of one animal may be replaced without injurious effects by that of another closely-allied species; while that of a very different animal will be more or less injurious, and may even cause immediate death.
20. The Lymph, which fills the lymphatic vessels, is, like the blood, an alkaline fluid, consisting of a plasma and corpuscles, and coagulates by the separation of fibrin from the plasma. The lymph differs from the blood in its corpuscles being all of the colourless kind, and in the very small proportion of its solid constituents, which amount to only about 5 per cent. of its weight. Lymph may, in fact, be regarded as blood minus its red corpuscles, and diluted with water, so as to be somewhat less dense than the serum of blood, which contains about 8 per cent. of solid matters.
A quantity of Auid equal to that of the blood is probably poured into the blood, daily, from the lymphatic system. This fluid is in great measure the mere overflow of the blood itself-plasma which has exuded from the capillaries into the tissues, and which has not been taken up again into the venous current ; the rest is due to the absorption of chyle from the alimentary canal.
1. The blood, the general nature and properties of which have been described in the preceding Lesson, is the highly complex product, not of any one organ or constituent of the body, but of all. Many of its features are doubtless given to it by its intrinsic and proper structural elements, the corpuscles ; but the general character of the blood is also profoundly affected by the circumstance that every other part of the body takes something from the blood and pours something into it. The blood may be compared to a river, the nature of the contents of which is largely determined by that of the head waters, and by that of the animals which swim in it; but which is also very much affected by the soil over which it flows, by the water-weeds which cover its banks, and by affluents from distant regions; by irrigation works which are supplied from it, and by drain-pipes which flow into it.
2. One of the most remarkable and important of the changes effected in the blood is that which results, in most parts of the body, from its simply passing through capillaries, or, in other words, through vessels the walls of which are thin enough to permit a free exchange between the blood and the fluids which permeate the adjacent tissues (Lesson II. $ 1).
Thus, if blood be taken from the artery which supplies a limb, it will be found to have a bright scarlet colour ; while blood drawn, at the same time, from the vein of the limb, will be of a purplish hue, so dark that it is com