What Does the Spleen Do?


Your spleen is an organ in your abdomen. It's on your left side, above and behind your stomach. It's an organ we don't talk about very often, and you may not know much about it. So let's learn about what your spleen does for your body.

Healthy spleen

A healthy spleen is typically about the size of a fist. It's a purple color. The spleen is part of the lymphatic system. That's the system that helps your body fight infection.

The spleen's role

Your spleen has a few jobs. It filters your blood, getting rid of old, abnormal and damaged red blood cells. The spleen stores blood, too. It holds extra blood that it can release if you have an accident that causes blood loss. The spleen also helps your body fight infection. It monitors your blood for harmful bacteria and viruses. If it detects any, it makes white blood cells to fight them. And, the spleen helps maintain fluid levels in your body.

Not a vital organ

Even though the spleen performs these important roles, it isn't a vital organ. That means you can live without it. If your spleen becomes diseased or damaged, we can take it out with a surgery called a "splenectomy." After a splenectomy, your doctor will give you tips for living a full and healthy life without a spleen.