Thanks to a pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) project called OrQA (Organ Quality Assessment), the organ transplant system is poised for a breakthrough and a major transformation. Following a significant investment of over £1 million from the UK's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), OrQA promises to revolutionize organ transplantation, saving lives and significantly reducing healthcare costs. The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Newcastle, Bradford, Oxford and the National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

The core principle of OrQA is similar to AI-based facial recognition technology, but is instead applied to assess the quality of organs for transplantation. This innovative approach has the potential to significantly increase the number of successful transplants. It is estimated that up to 200 kidney transplants and a further 100 liver transplants could be carried out in the UK each year thanks to OrQA. This is a major step forward, given that there are currently nearly 7,000 patients in the UK waiting for an organ transplant, and the waiting list for liver transplants has increased markedly since the pandemic.

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OrQA development and impact

The author of this article is the technical lead on the team behind this innovative technology. Currently, once an organ is available, it is visually assessed by the surgical team. This means that in some cases, the organ may not be suitable for transplantation. The team is developing deep machine learning algorithms that will be trained using thousands of images of human organs and will be able to evaluate images of donor organs more effectively than the human eye can. Become.

Using this technology, surgeons can take photos of donated organs and upload them to OrQA for instant evaluation for suitability for transplantation. This rapid and accurate assessment is critical given that organs can only survive for a limited time outside the body. The ability to make quick and accurate decisions is essential to ensure the transplantability of organs.

The technology behind OrQA

OrQA's deep machine learning algorithms are its foundation. This advanced AI system is trained using thousands of images of human organs, allowing it to evaluate donor organs with greater accuracy than the human eye. This process involves evaluating various factors important to the success of the transplant, including organ damage, pre-existing conditions, and the efficiency of washing blood away from the organ (organ perfusion).

Enhanced decision-making in transplant surgery

The introduction of OrQA represents a major advance in transplant surgery. Traditionally, organ evaluation has been a subjective process, relying heavily on the experience and judgment of the surgical team. However, this subjectivity may result in viable organs being deemed unsuitable for transplantation. OrQA aims to eliminate this uncertainty by providing a more objective and accurate assessment.

Colin Wilson, a transplant surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and co-lead on the project, highlighted the importance of OrQA in supporting surgeons. Evaluate whether the organ is healthy enough to be transplanted. Our ultimate hope is that OrQA will enable more patients to receive lifesaving transplants and live longer, healthier lives. ”

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Benefits that go beyond just saving lives

The benefits of OrQA go beyond saving more lives through increased transplant opportunities. From a financial perspective, this technology is poised to deliver significant savings to health systems. Kidney transplants can save the NHS around £420,000 per patient over 10 years. The potential savings are significant, considering that as of March 31, 2022, the total number of patients undergoing functional transplantation was approximately 58,900.

Future prospects and challenges

Although the outlook for OrQA is very promising, challenges remain. One of the major hurdles is integrating this technology into existing medical infrastructure and making it accessible and easy to use for surgical teams. Additionally, AI algorithms require continuous updates and improvements to keep pace with advances in medicine and organ transplantation.


OrQA represents a significant advance in organ transplantation and has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of patients waiting for a transplant. This AI-powered technology is expected to not only improve the quality and efficiency of organ transplants, but also provide significant economic benefits. The medical community is eagerly awaiting the full-scale implementation of his OrQA, which proves the incredible potential of AI to revolutionize healthcare.

Professor Hassan Ugair

Professor Hassan Ugail is Director of the Center for Visual Computing at the University of Bradford, UK.

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