RyanCarey comments on Blood Donation: (Generally) Not That Effective on the Margin - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: RyanCarey 10 January 2018 08:57:39PM 0 points [-]

I revisited this question earlier today. Here's my analysis with rough made-up numbers.

I think each extra time you donate blood, it saves less than 0.02 expected lives.

Suppose half the benefits come from the red blood cells.

Each blood donation gives half a unit of red blood cells. (Because a unit of blood is ~300ml)

Each red blood cell transfusion uses 2-3 units on average, and saves a life <5% of the time.

So on average every ~5 donations would save 0.1 lives (supposing the red blood cells are half of the impact)

But each marginal unit of blood is worth much less than the average because blood is kept in reserve for when it's most needed.

So it should be less than 0.02 lives saved per donation, and possibly much less. If saving a life via AMF costs a few thousand dollars, and most EAs should value their time at least tens of dollars an hour, then pretty-much all EAs should not donate their blood, at least as far as altruistic reasons go.

I could be way wrong here, especially if the components other than red blood cells are providing a large fraction of the value.