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Am J Transplant. 2004 Apr;4(4):569-73.

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

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Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME, USA.


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.

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