Government of Canada Invests $2 million for research on innovative organ and tissue donation projects

News release

April 29, 2022 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

Every year, thousands of Canadians receive life-saving organ transplants, while thousands still wait, and hundreds die because not enough organs are available.

The Government of Canada recognizes that too many people in Canada are on organ waitlists and that Canada lags in organ donation when compared to other high-performing countries. In 2020, over 4,400 people in Canada were waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and of those, 286 individuals died while on the waitlist.

Today, to close out National Organ Transplantation and Donation Awareness Week, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced funding for two new projects through Innovative Solutions Canada that will focus on cutting-edge research in the area of organ and tissue donation in the hopes of improving those statistics.

BI Expertise, based in Quebec City, Quebec, and Ortho BioMed, based in Toronto, Ontario, will each receive $1 million, over two years, from Health Canada to develop and test their prototype tools that use artificial intelligence to more accurately match organ donors with recipients.

Donated organs are a lifesaver for thousands of people in Canada, but available donors are scarce. Post-transplantation organ failure and other complications are also common, wasting precious resources and further straining the healthcare system. Increasing the donor pool and matching individual recipients with organs predicted to last the longest can result in:

  • More successful donations
  • Shorter wait times for potential organ recipients
  • Better life quality and reduced cost of care for patients awaiting transplantation
  • Fewer deaths and organ rejections post-transplantation

Innovative Solutions Canada helps Canadian innovators who want to start, grow, and get to market, by funding research and development and testing prototypes in real-life settings. By investing in this exciting new research, Health Canada is preparing a pathway for new solutions to challenges in our health system.

Quotes

“Organ and tissue donation saves lives. Our government is investing in the development of organ donation technology because it is critical in helping people in Canada who require lifesaving transplants. The funding announced today will support research which will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes and efficiency in the health system.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“These projects show how AI can have a significant and concrete impact on our health care system and the lives of Canadians. Ensuring the health and safety of Canadians is vital, and our government is proud to support cutting-edge companies as they push the limits of technology to find innovative ways to improve Canada’s organ and tissue donation and transplant ecosystem.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“AI technologies have a huge potential to improve the life of people in the organ donation system. We highly appreciate the support we receive from the Government of Canada. This funding will accelerate the development of the solution and the setup of a spin-off company dedicated to bringing it to market. We are looking forward to collaborating around the solution with all organ transplant stakeholders, in the best interest of patients.”

Hobivola A. Rabearivelo
Chief Strategy & Partnerships Officer, BI Expertise

“Use of AI in healthcare is on the rise. Linking genetic diseases with DNA information is now much faster and more accurate, thanks to advances in AI. It has also enabled early cancer detection, thus saving lives. This project will use similar technology to augment clinical decision-making during the pre-transplant period, donor-recipient matching, and post-transplant care. It promises to make life a lot better for many patients.”

Nick Sajadi
Chief Technology Officer, Ortho BioMed

Quick facts

  • Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) helps Canadian innovators who want to start, grow and get to market, by funding research and development and testing prototypes in real-life settings.

  • View the outline of the challenge on Innovation, Science and Industry’s website.

  • Thousands of people in Canada await organ transplantation. The Canadian Organ Replacement Register says over 23,000 patients are currently on dialysis due to a non-functioning kidney.

  • Only around 3,000 people in Canada patients were matched with suitable donors in 2019.

  • Around 250 people in Canada die each year awaiting an organ match.

Associated links

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Enquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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