- 27 year old healthy, cis, white, straight male.
- I am O- blood type, or ‘universal donor’. O- can be accepted by any recipient, and there are certain situations when only O- blood can be accepted, such as when the donee has O- blood type, or in situations where the blood type of the donee cannot be quickly found. Around 13% of people are O-.
- I used to give regularly, and have given 10 times without issue. I haven’t given for 4 + years, mainly due to me being uncertain how useful it is on the margin, and the costs it incurs me. For me, these costs are:
- Time. Generally a little under an hour at the donor center, plus 1 hour’s transport time if I get a lift by car or taxi, or 2 hours if I get public transport (I don’t own a car).
- Feeling lethargic and tired afterwards. I find this persists for around 3 days after giving blood, and makes doing exercise harder for up to a week (doing regular exercise is important for me).
- Discomfort of the needle when actually giving blood.
- The UK (where I live) has just declared its first ever ‘amber alert’ for blood shortages. Stocks of O- are said to be below 2 days, with the NHS aiming for 6 days at all time. More importantly, it seems stocks are so low that non-urgent hospital operations are being postponed. This is the first time I’ve read of a blood shortages having direct consequences on hospital operations.
General evidence around giving blood
Much how EA complains that charities often don’t provide transparent evidence of their outcomes, I’m frustrated at the lack of evidence available to donors on the efficacy of donating blood. There seems to be very little attempt to measure the expected value of giving blood, and how it varies depending on blood stocks, or a donor’s blood type. There’s a few posts in the EA-verse, such as this one from 2017, which estimates ‘a unit of red blood cells costs about 120 pounds’ (frustratingly, no source is given). There’s this article from 2015, which estimates the value of giving blood to be equivalent to donating between $50 and $1667 to a GiveWell top charity.
Following some sort of common-sense morality factoring in the current situational factors in the UK, and my comparative advantage with O- blood, I’ll probably donate in the coming two or three weeks. But if someone can provide links to more in-depth analysis on the usefulness of giving blood it’ll make me happy, and probably influence whether I take up donating regularly again.