In 2016, 135,860 organs were transplanted globally, an increase of 7.25% compared to 2015. Yet, nearly 20 people in the US and countless others around the world die every day waiting for an organ transplant.
Meet Pratik Mohapatra, a computer science engineering student at R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru, who hopes to build an AI solution to tackle this problem. His concept of OrganSecure, an AI-powered app that aims to match organ donors with people in need of an organ transplant in real-time, is one of the three winning ideas of the 2019 AI for Good Idea Challenge.
An initiative to encourage developers, students, and data scientists to use AI to tackle some of society’s greatest obstacles, the AI for Good Idea Challenge offers prizes of up to USD 10,000 worth of Azure credits, hardware from Microsoft, and a chance to present their ideas on the AI Lab.
Inspired to empower
A coding enthusiast, Mohapatra has been developing apps since he was 14 years old and has a keen interest in applying technology to life sciences. He’s no stranger to Microsoft, having won the prestigious Big Data award at Imagine Cup 2018 for DrugSafe, a drug authentication app.
“While watching a web series that revolves around organ donation, I realized the pain and emotional trauma people go through when waiting for a transplant. I started digging deeper about the problem and spoke to doctors at leading hospitals in Bengaluru to comprehend the magnitude of the issue,” he shares.
Mohapatra recognized that the typical first-come, first-served logic might not be applicable when you have multiple factors to consider before matching a recipient with the donor. The far-reaching impact of organ donation motivated him to conceptualize OrganSecure, which is currently in early stages of alpha testing.
“I came across the Microsoft AI for Good Idea Challenge on my LinkedIn feed and found it to be the ideal platform to take my idea to fruition. I filled up the application on the website and went through multiple rounds of submissions and presentations. Detailing my vision, technical architecture and the impact my app would have on society was challenging and exciting at the same time,” he explains.
How OrganSecure works
With OrganSecure, Mohapatra hopes to tackle the two biggest challenges in the organ donation ecosystem—getting more people to become organ donors and ensuring people in need get the organs at the right time. The app starts with educating users with information related to organ donation and helps them sign up to become a donor, understand what organs they can donate based on their medical history, and making them aware of local laws.
Organ receivers will benefit from an AI-powered real-time ranking on the donor list and the expected timeline to move to the top of the list. With information about expected costs, nearest organ banks and other relevant details, patients and their families will also be able to better equip themselves for the process.
Given the various parameters that govern organ donation, such as blood group and antigen type, the app uses Azure Machine Learning to predict the match of an organ and estimate the rank and time required for an awaiting recipient.
If a possible donor meets with an accident or passes away, there is no easy way currently to check the database in time for the organs to be effectively stored. With OrganSecure, hospitals will be able to verify the identity of the donor before starting the extraction procedure.
Mohapatra is currently collecting datasets to improve the algorithm. “I am trying to partner with well-known hospitals to establish an initial database and measure the accuracy rates. After achieving the target accuracy rates, I plan to roll OrganSecure out to the public,” he shares.
Once ready, Mohapatra aims to first release the app in the state of Karnataka in India. Eventually, he envisions expanding it beyond the country to other markets like the United States, China, South Korea, and Canada.
“One person can give life to as many as eight people through organ donation. OrganSecure will ensure that those in need of an organ, receive one in time. At the end of the day, if 30-40 percent of OrganSecure users become organ donors, I would have achieved my mission,” he concludes.
For now, inspired by Microsoft’s mission, Mohapatra is looking forward to join the organization at the end of his engineering course in June 2020.