Understanding the additional life-years given to patients by deceased organ donors is necessary as substantial investments are being proposed to increase organ donation. Data were drawn from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. All patients placed on the wait-list as eligible to receive or receiving a deceased donor solid organ transplant between 1995 and 2002 were studied. The benefit of transplant was determined by the difference in the expected survival experiences of transplant recipients and candidates expecting transplant soon. An average organ donor provides 30.8 additional life-years distributed over an average 2.9 different solid organ transplant recipients, whereas utilization of all solid organs from a single donor provides 55.8 additional life-years spread over six organ transplant recipients. The relative contribution of the different organs to the overall life-year benefit is higher for liver, heart and kidney, and lowest for lung and pancreas. The life-year losses from unprocured and unused organs are comparable to suicide, congenital anomalies, homicide or perinatal conditions and half that of HIV. Approximately 250 000 additional life-years could be saved annually if consent for potential deceased donors could be increased to 100%. Therefore, increasing organ donation should be considered among our most important public health concerns.