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Organ transplant AI app shortlisted for major NHS award


Organ transplant Quality Assessment logo, showing words below an 'orca' wale

A revolutionary method of assessing transplant organs developed at the University of Bradford has been named as a finalist for a major NHS award.

OrQA - Organ Quality Assessment - will employ artificial intelligence-based facial recognition technology to ‘score’ potential transplant organs, saving money, time and potentially lives.

It was named as a finalist in the Medipex NHS Innovation Awards and Showcase, the winners of which will be announced March 13.

Professor Hassan Ugail

Professor Hassan Ugail, pictured above, co-principal investigator on the OrQA project, said: “At the moment, many potential donor organs go to waste because we are unable to assess them in time, because that assessment requires specialist knowledge.

“This is one of the ways in which AI can help transform lives. It is not replacing the human element but assisting it. By using an algorithm to look at thousands of images of human organs, we are able to create a system that assesses donor organs and this will hopefully save time, money and lives.”

It is estimated OrQA could result in up to 200 more patients receiving kidney transplants and 100 more liver transplants a year in the UK - but the technology also has potential to be applied to the US healthcare market, where savings would be in the tens of millions.

Surgeons working on a patient in an operating theatre

In the UK, the scope of the app is already being expanded to include other organs, including pancreas, heart and lungs.

Russell Hodgetts, Commercial Innovation Manager, said: "The University of Bradford specialises in using AI in facial recognition. That same technology is being used to develop this application.

"Being named as a finalist in these awards is momentous. It shows that OrQA has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people and is a prime example of how academic research can have a real-world impact.”

A drone picture looking down on Richmond Building University of Bradford

In March last year, the digital health package was awarded £1 million in funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

OrQA is a collaboration between the University of Bradford, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is supported by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) biobank (hosted by the University of Oxford) and an NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit to deliver research for the NHS.

The project is led by Colin Wilson, General Secretary of the British Transplantation Society, who is also Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University.

Medipex Innovation Awards showcase the achievements of NHS staff and their collaborators who are developing innovative ideas to improve patient care across the NHS, and inspire others to do the same.


Logo for BREE - slogan reads: An idea now, a different future

The University of Bradford recently launched BREE - the Bradford-Renduchintala Enterprise Ecosystem - to support entrepreneurs, taking business ideas from concept to market.

BREE is led by academic and industry experts, many of whom are experienced in developing business start-ups, with projects such as OrQA being a prime example.

If you have a business idea and need help, contact BREE or email