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Content Warning: blood, fertility, needles

Trini Decombe - Untitled_Artwork 1.jpg

Katie Oliver – Information about blood transfusions

A blood transfusion may be needed if you have a scarcity of red blood cells and/or you have severe bleeding – possibly from surgery, childbirth or a serious accident. The procedure is usually safe.

the trembling bags of blood

are startling in their redness

the doctors put them on a scale

and shake their heads

Ask your doctor or nurse why you might need a transfusion if you're not sure. You will be asked to sign a consent form beforehand.

your husband is frightened by

your grey face, white lips

you ask for some orange juice

you are at risk of heart failure

During a blood transfusion:


  1. You sit or lie down in a chair or bed.

  2. A needle is inserted into a vein in your arm or hand.

  3. The needle is connected to a tube and a bag of blood.

  4. The blood runs through the tube into your vein.

You might feel a sharp prick when the needle is first inserted into your vein, but you should not feel anything during the procedure.

you breastfeed throughout


as the baby knocks the cannula

the new blood is so cold

you cry for more painkillers

and scream as air bubbles travel

through the tube, towards your veins

Your arm or hand may ache and have a bruise for a few days after.

twenty months later

there is still

a tiny scar, and at night

the insides of your eyelids

glow scarlet

Katie Oliver is a writer based on the west coast of Ireland, whose work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. Her debut short story collection, I WANTED TO BE CLOSE TO YOU, is available to order from Fly on the Wall Press, and she is a first reader for Tiny Molecules. She can be found on Twitter @katie_rose_o

Artwork by trini decombe

trini decombe is a chilean/british poet. Her poetry was widely published between 2007-2014. She has recently started to submit again and her most recent poems can be found in poem atlas, full house literary, untitled writing and mumwrite. She plays with language and form, sometimes just form and is yet to master the world of social media. She co-founded and edits streetcakemagazine.

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