(Learn more about the organs of the human bodies in other posts in the Viscera series here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/viscera/?order=asc)
The spleen is one of the lesser known organs of the human body. If you asked the lay person, they would not know what the spleen does, let alone where it is. The spleen is a solid organ that lies in the left upper corner of the abdomen, tucked under the left diaphragm (opposite to the liver which lies under the right diaphragm). Its functions are mainly related to blood, such as removing old red blood cells (sequestration), storing platelets in case there is an emergency bleeding, making antibodies and releasing lymphocytes (type of white blood cell) to help fight infection and in times of need, creating red blood cells. Red blood cells are usually made in bone marrow in adults, but if the bone marrow fails (e.g. leukaemia), the spleen and liver can step in to create vital blood components (extramedullary haematopoiesis).
As most of the functions of the spleen are not technically necessary to sustain life, it can be removed without significant consequences. The spleen is sometimes removed when a patient has severe thrombocytopaenia (lack of platelets) or when the spleen is damaged by trauma. Because it is a solid organ, trauma to it such as a kick to the stomach can cause it to rupture (i.e. break in to pieces). Splenic rupture can cause life-threatening haemorrhage (bleeding) and may not be evident in trauma cases. A person without a spleen needs regular check-ups and immunisations to help fight infections as they have a weakened immune system.
The role of the spleen was a mystery for thousands of years and thus various cultures tried to explain various medical phenomena using the spleen. The ancient Greeks thought the spleen produced black bile, which was associated with melancholy. The spleen was also associated to anger by the English and laughter by the Talmud.