Promoting Organ Donor Registries Through Public Education: What Is the Cost of Securing Organ Donors?

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Abstract

Background

Transplant medicine's impact on America's public health is seriously limited by acute shortage of transplantable organs. Consequently, the United Sates has witnessed considerable investment in the promotion of organ donor registries. Although there is no evidence to support that donor registry promotion alleviates organ shortage, this belief continues to drive investments into registry promotion. In this study, return on investment in donor registry promotion was examined using cost-outcomes analysis.

Methods

Cost of promoting the donor registry was estimated in US dollars whereas the outcome was measured as the number of individuals who join the registry (registrants) and their value in terms of organ donors. The study was conducted from the perspective of a regional Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). Costs were directly obtained from the OPO. The number of new registrants was obtained from the OPO and the departments of motor vehicles that maintain the donor registry. The value of registrants in terms of organ donors was computed based on a registrant's age-dependent risk of dying and age-dependent probability of becoming an organ donor.

Results

Six thousand seven hundred eight individuals joined the organ donor registry (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 5429-7956) at a cost of $455 per registrant (95% CI, US $383-US $562). These individuals result in 4.2 present-day donors (95% CI, 2.5-6.6) at a cost of US $726 000 (95% CI, US $462000-US $1.2 million).

Conclusions

Because the cost per registrant and cost per donor is less than society's willingness to pay, donor registry promotion offers positive return on investment. Investment in registry promotion should at the minimum be maintained at current levels.

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