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Blood and Oxygen What is blood and how does it help you breathe? What is blood? Blood is a mixture made up of different cells in a fluid called plasma. Red blood cells (erythrocytes), contain haemoglobin which is a chemical that allows them to transport oxygen White blood cells or leukocytes, are cells of the immune system defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. Platelets or thrombocytes, are the cells circulating in the blood that are involved in the cellular mechanisms leading to the formation of blood clots. Blood Doping This is a banned process where an athlete receives a blood transfusion of red blood cells (usually their own, collected at an earlier time) to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood.