The Unhappy Red-Blood Cell


By Yemi Sanusi

This is purely a work of fiction, a result of the writer’s imagination. Any similarity to any individual or individuals is not intended.

In the digestive tract of a human, haemorrhoids/piles were beginning to form after a day of constipation and some blood cells were making their way out of the body. An intestinal cell stopped to talk to a red blood cell.

“Hey Red Cell, what are you doing here?”

“I’m tired, I’m bored. I’ve packed my bags and I’m leaving.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know; maybe to the outside world. From what I saw at the eyes, it looks so beautiful out there. I just feel so worthless in here.”

“Now, come on. Why would you feel worthless? You’re a red blood cell for crying out loud.”

“There are trillions of us. I can’t make a difference with so many of us; and… outside looks so attractive.”

“Well, outside may look attractive but I think you should check out how many red blood cells are living successfully out there. There are lots of vicious organisms living outside too, waiting for just one mistake from one of us in this body. If they get you out there, you won’t be alive for long. Trust me, if the torture doesn’t kill you, then the conditions out there will.”

“Conditions; what conditions?”

“You see, the human blood is made up of different components – red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma – and the pH has just got to be right for all of them to live together as one happy family. You guys constitute the life of a person. That’s why you’re called the life of a being. You’re special.”

“But I get to be recycled in less than 120 days’ time.”

“Big deal. You have the priviledge of renewal. Very few cells do. Ask the brain and spinal cord cells; rare opportunity. Ask the skin cells, they get to die and are shed off; and they’re often washed off with soap and water. You have the priviledge of a renewed life. You’re highly valued, I must say. And you know what red cell? I like you and I really think you should look on the bright side.”

“I’m not sure I know the bright side. My boss is quite mean; she’s such a perfectionist, always expecting too much from me and the other red cells.”

“Well, if you ask me, she’s got to be. She’s handling a very delicate, powerful and important system. She’s got to have a highly efficient team as well as a team she can depend on and trust. She probably has a strong personality too but it would do you a lot of good to learn from her… before you throw in the towel and run away. I think you should simply focus on being the best you can be. Who knows, you just might be head of department someday and then you’ll understand what that responsibility truly means. However, I’m not saying you shouldn’t leave if you’re actually fed up but you really need to be sure you can survive wherever you run to.”

“But…but what good is it really, being a red blood cell? Just look at the white blood cells. They are fighters, defenders of the body. They look so good in those military fatigues, most of them really macho. Red blood cells just carry stuff all around the body passing through arteries, capillaries, veins over and over again. No stopping as long as the heart is pumping; bloody messengers carrying different stuffs here and there even while the body is supposed to be fast asleep and everybody else is resting.”

“I think that’s just the beauty of being a red blood cell. Can’t you see? You sustain the body. You carry oxygen, food and water to all the cells even while the body is sleeping  and then you carry waste away from the cells, so you detoxify the cells, making them ready for another new day.”


“For you, it seems like ‘yuck’ but without red blood cells, the whole body would be dead. No food, no water, no oxygen and no disposing of waste products. Now that would be one yucky smelling body. Just think about that. And you get to stop over and encourage other cells when you’re not in moods like this. I’m sure there are lots of human cells that would wish they could move and go round the body several times every day chatting with different cells in different organs and seeing new perspectives without even considering the perks of travelling. Just think of what I would give to simply see the outside world through the eyes. It must be pure heaven.”

“Well… I guess you’re right on that.”

“What’s more, I really do think you should be proud of being a red blood cell.”

“Well … maybe I should be. Oh well, I guess I should be.”

“Come on, red is the colour of love, of life. And once again, really appreciate the fact that you are so mobile you can act like a tour guide. That’s not something I can do and not many cells have that priviledge. That’s why you can see the outside world and think it’s so attractive. All I ever see are waste products of food. I don’t even get the juicy part. I get the left over and I’m expected to send them to the outside world; how about that for a job?”

“Okay, you have a point there.”

“And if every red blood cell felt like you did and decided to pack their bags and leave, the body would be so dead, you know, from losing blood. And no matter how small the loss is, if morale is still low and it continues over a long period, it can kill. That’s how powerful each one of you can be. Tiny drops making a mighty ocean.”

“Hmmm… now you say it, it looks like it’s all in the power of numbers. I never thought of it like that.”

“Good. But remember it always starts with one – you. So you’re going to stay, right?”

“Well, yes, I am. I’m going to stay right here.”

“What? Um… here?  Why?”

“So I can talk some sense into any red blood cell that wants to go to the seemingly attractive world out there.”


“Hahaha … just kidding, I’ll go and resume at my duty post. Like you said, I just might become head of department one day and would need to make younger cells realise how important they are to the body. I’ll start by telling my colleagues now.”

“That will be so good. And I will be very proud of you.”


Yemi Sanusi is a medical doctor with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Lagos Business School. She loves writing and hopes to make positive changes through her works. She is the author of ‘Heads and Tales’, a medical fiction.