December 3 through Thursday, December 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., University of New Hampshire (UNH) students and faculty are able to donate blood during a blood drive hosted by the American Red Cross in Memorial Union Building’s Granite State Room.

It is an easy process that can make a difference.

The first step before donating blood is eating a healthy breakfast. After that, you can register for donation at the front desk or online. Make sure you have at least an hour before you start the process. Upon arriving to the room at your scheduled time, you are required to read through the pre-donation materials which contain important information regarding eligibility, safety and the donation process. Alternatively, you can complete the RapidPass form on the Red Cross website on the day of donation and read the materials beforehand.

Next, you will receive sticker with you name on it; after a short wait, a medical assistant will take you to a booth where you will have to answer a series of questions to ensure that blood donation is safe for you and for the potential recipient. Completing the questionnaire online with RapidPass will allow you to speed up the process. Your blood pressure and body temperature will be measured and a quick blood test will be carried out to determine the concentration of iron in your blood. If everything is in order, at this point you will be all set for donation.

When donating blood, you will be sitting (or lying) down on a specialized bed with an armrest. In order to locate your vein, the assistant will ask you to squeeze a stress ball multiple times. They will then mark the vein with a marker if necessary, prepare the bag and the test tubes, disinfect your arm and insert the needle. Although the moment of insertion is unpleasant for some people, the process itself rarely causes discomfort. You will be asked to squeeze the stress ball every five to 10 seconds to make your blood flow, and you will be done in about three to 10 minutes. The time varies for every donor, but the donation time cannot exceed 20 minutes.

After a pint of your blood has been taken, the assistant will collect some of your blood into test tubes; it will be tested to ensure safety and compatibility with a potential recipient. After that, the needle would be removed, you will have to hold your arm vertically for about two minutes, and, after a piece of cotton is taped to where the insertion point was, you will have officially donated blood. You hand might be numb, but that sensation is normal and will pass soon. Medical assistants will advise you to avoid demanding exercise, and to pass by the snack table on your way out. You will also be encouraged to take a free T-shirt with the Red Cross logo.

So, how can you find out what happens to your blood?

“There is an app that you can download and you can follow where your blood goes,” Vicki Braun, a team supervisor at the UNH blood drive, said, “It doesn’t tell you who it goes to, but it tells you if it was used and which hospital it could have gone to.”

Many students at UNH participate in blood drives, and for many, this week’s blood drive is not the first one.

“This is probably eight-ish [donations],” junior civil engineering major Matt Bean said. “It’s duty, I guess. It’s something that’s needed, something that I can do.”

“[Blood] is no good for me, might as well give it to someone else,” sophomore biomedical science major Haley Smith said. “I think it’s my fifth [time]… my second time at UNH. People need [blood]. It’s just a pint, it’s like giving a piece of your liver. It comes back, so why not?”

The blood drives at UNH are hosted four times a year, in September, December, February and April. The blood drive ends today at 3:00 p.m.