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How to calm down an annoyed friend.
When it was done, I knelt by Tilly's bedside, checking her vital signs about once per minute and reporting them to Stansy to write down.
"Norm," Wendy said behind me. I turned. She was wearing rubber gloves and carried in her hand a one quart canning jar. The tubing she had taken had been connected somehow to a pair of rubber grommets that went through a hole in the lid and gripped the tubing tightly, forming a seal. One tube snaked down to the bottom of the jar while the other ended just inside. There was even a small hand pump that had been fitted to attach to the smaller tube as a bellows. "We made a transfusion flask. Will it work?"
I stood and moved closer. "You sterilized it?"
"Of course. Stan and Nissi are finishing up the second one. One of them will be down with it any minute."
I took the apparatus from her and examined it. "I think it might work. Now I'm just worried about clotting."
Wendy shook her head. "Sasha had sodium citrate on hand for canning. We made a solution from it. There's some already in the bottom of the jar."
"Wendy, I could kiss you." I hooked the improvised flask up to Nock's catheter and opened the tube. I used a felt pen to mark the bottle at just over a pint. "Keep squeezing your arm," I told him. "It will help pump the blood out faster."
Nissi arrived with the second flask and I hooked Sasha up. I checked on Tilly again when that was done. Her pulse had definitely slowed some more, but she was still unconscious. "Hang on," I whispered to her. The waiting was nerve-wracking. I knew that it took time to draw off blood, but I kept thinking how every moment brought Tilly closer to dying. I used some of that time to suture her wound closed and re-bandage, with Wendy's help. As Nock's jar neared the level I had marked, I moved close, poised to disconnect him the moment it was reached. "There," I said, closing off the tube.
I quickly swapped out the nearly empty saline bag and replaced it with the jar, working the pump a few times to prime the pressure. Once I was sure that the blood was moving into the tubing and that there was no air in the lines, I slumped back against the wall. I was feeling shaky and a little sick. Close to forty-five minutes had passed since Wendy had first found Tilly, and I was starting to come down from my adrenaline high. Still, I had to remember to pump the jar at regular intervals to keep the pressure inside up
"I'm done," Sasha said, bringing me back to full awareness. I went to unhook her.
"What-what's happening?" Tilly said. Her voice rasped.
Wendy moved in quickly to calm her while I worked on Sasha. "You're going to be okay," she said, stroking a hand through Tilly's hair.
I finished up and came back to Tilly's side with the flask of Sasha's blood. I could see her gaze darting around, taking it all in. "You're giving me a transfusion? Why?"
I checked the flask. It was nearly time to change it, so I stayed at the ready, poised above Tilly. "You would have died without it," Wendy said. The admonishment in her voice was clear. Tilly looked away in shame. "But we're glad you're back with us," Wendy added.
"I wanted to die," she said, so softly that I doubted that anyone in the room but Nock or myself would hear. "I can't live with this anymore." The desolation in those words went straight to my core. For just an instant, I felt an echo of what she must have felt.
"That's enough of that talk." The rumbling source of those words surprised me enough to take my focus off the transfusion flask for a moment. That had been Nock. "You're going to live. You're going to get this problem figured out. But first you're going to thank the people that saved your life. You understand me, girl?"
Tilly stared wide-eyed at Nock, as if seeing him for the first time. "I'm sorry, Nock. And thank you."
I clamped the tube and changed out the empty flask for Sasha's full one while the others had words with Tilly.