Summary

  • The cost-effectiveness of donating a kidney is about 0.7 QALY/k$ to 20 QALY/k$.
  • The cost-effectiveness of donating to GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund is about 10 QALY/k$.
  • Donating a kidney is about 6 % to 100 % as cost-effective as donating to GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund.
    • Note that this comparison is often unfair, as suggested in this comment, since donating to effective charities and donating a kidney are usually not mutually exclusive.

The data and calculations are presented below.

Data

  • Benefits of donatig a kidney (BK): 14 QALY.
  • Cost of donating a kidney (CKL to CKH): 877 $ to 19,887 $.
  • Global GDP per capita in 2020 (GDPpC): 10.9 k$.
  • Cost-effectiveness of donating to GiveDirectly in units of doubling consumption[1] (CEGDU): 3.35 U/k$.
  • Ratio between the cost-effectiveness of donating to GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund and to GiveDirectly[2] (RMIFGD): 8.
  • Value of health in units of doubling consumption[3] (HU): 2.3 U/QALY.

Calculations

  • Cost of donating a kidney (CK): (CKL * CKH)^0.5 = 4.18 k$.
  • Cost-effectiveness of donating a kidney (CEKL to CEKH): BK / CKH =  0.704 QALY/k$ to BK / CKL =  16.0 QALY/k$.
  • Cost-effectiveness of donating to GiveDirectly (CEGD): CEGDU / HU = 1.46 QALY/k$.
  • Cost-effectiveness of donating to GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund[4] (CEMIF): RMIFGD * CEGD = 11.7 QALY/k$.
  • Ratio between the cost-effectiveness of donating a kidney and donating to GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund (RL to RH): CEKL / CEMIF = 6.04 % to CEKH / CEMIF = 137 %.
  1. ^

    To be precise, units of doubling consumption for one person for one year.

  2. ^

    "To this point, we’ve typically[8] funded opportunities that pass a relatively high bar: eight (or more) times as cost-effective as GiveDirectly".

  3. ^

    In the cited report from GiveWell, 2.3 refers to the "value of averting one year of life lived with disease/disability (YLD)". This corresponds to the value of averting 1 DALY, which is assumed here to be equivalent to the value of creating 1 QALY.

  4. ^

    Note that the EA Global Health and Development Fund "recommends grants to GiveWell top charities as a baseline, but will recommend higher-risk grants they believe to be more effective (in expectation) than GiveWell top charities".

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