Cost-effectiveness of organ donation: evaluating investment into donor action and other donor initiatives

Am J Transplant. 2004 Apr;4(4):569-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2004.00373.x.


Initiatives aimed at increasing organ donation can be considered health care interventions, and will compete with other health care interventions for limited resources. We have developed a model capable of calculating the cost-utility of organ donor initiatives and applied it to Donor Action, a successful international program designed to optimize donor practices. The perspective of the payer in the Canadian health care system was chosen. A Markov model was developed to estimate the net present value incremental lifetime direct medical costs and quality adjusted life years (QALYs) as a consequence of increased kidney transplantation rates. Cost-saving and cost-effectiveness thresholds were calculated. The effects of changing the success rate and time frame of the intervention was examined as a sensitivity analysis. Transplantation results in a gain of 1.99 QALYs and a cost savings of Can$104,000 over the 20-year time frame compared with waiting on dialysis. Implementation of an intervention such as Donor Action, which produced as few as three extra donors per million population, would be cost-effective at a cost of Can$1.0 million per million population. The cost-effectiveness of Donor Action and other organ donor initiatives compare favorably to other health care interventions. Organ donation may be underfunded in North America.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / economics
  • Kidney Transplantation / methods
  • Markov Chains
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / methods*