Artificial intelligence can now select organs for transplant ‘more effectively than human doctors can see’ | Science and technology news

Newly developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology can now choose donor organs for transplant much more accurately than humans, according to British researchers.

The National Institute for Research in Health and Care (NIHR) has invested £1 million in funding for the AI ​​project, which could increase the number of organs available for transplant.

Currently, surgeons examine donor organs and use their own judgment to assess whether they are of good enough quality to be suitable for transplantation into patients.

But the new method uses AI and its “memory” of tens of thousands of images of donated organs to identify those that offer the best chance of transplant success.

Ministers are supporting the project, as well as NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the NIHR’s Blood and Transplant Research Unit.

The team of experts behind the new phenomenon, known as OrQA – Organ Quality Assessment – say it could result in up to 200 more patients receiving kidney transplants and 100 more patients receiving liver transplants every year in the UK.

Work is ongoing to define the technology, but the team, which includes experts from the University of Oxford, believe it will deliver results for the NHS in the future.

Professor Hassan Ugail, director of the center for visual computing at the University of Bradford, whose team is designing the image analysis, told the PA news agency: “Currently, when an organ becomes available, it is assessed by a surgical team on sight. , which means that occasionally organs will be deemed unsuitable for transplantation.

“We are developing a deep machine learning algorithm that will be trained using thousands of images of human organs to evaluate images of donated organs more effectively than the human eye can see.

“Ultimately, this means a surgeon can take a picture of the donated organ, load it into OrQA and get immediate feedback on how best to use the donated organ.”

A key part of the OrQA assessment will be looking for damage, pre-existing conditions, and how well the blood has cleared from the organ.

Colin Wilson, Transplant Surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and co-leader of the project, said: “Until now, we have had nothing to help us as surgeons at the time of organ retrieval.

“This is a really important step for professionals and patients to make sure people can get the right transplant as soon as possible.

“The software we developed ‘scores’ the quality of the organ and aims to help surgeons assess whether the organ is healthy enough to be transplanted.”

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Professor Derek Manas, medical director of organ donation and transplantation at the NHSBT, described the development as “an exciting development in technological infrastructure” that will enable transplant surgeons and clinicians to make more informed decisions about organ use and help close the gap between patients waiting for and those receiving life-saving organs.

Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “Technology has the ability to revolutionize the way we care for people and this cutting-edge technology will improve organ transplant services.

“Developed here in the UK, this pioneering new method could save hundreds of lives and ensure the best use of donated organs.

“I encourage everyone to record their organ donation decision. Share it with your family so your loved ones can follow your wishes and hopefully save others.”

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