A Small Drone Delivered A Kidney In Order To Perform A Transplant

The drone departed from a parking lot in Baltimore, United States, with a refrigerated kidney and flew 3 miles to reach the University Hospital of Maryland. A Small Drone Delivered A Kidney In Order To Perform A Transplant.

A Small Drone Delivered A Kidney In Order To Perform A Transplant
Like a “Uber for Organs.”

At 1:00 a.m. on April 19, a small drone took off from a Maryland parking lot with a refrigerated kidney on board and traveled 3 miles to land on the roof of Baltimore University Hospital.

The drone, which required special clearance from aviation regulators, took off at 1:00 a.m. on April 19 and flew at a height of 3 miles (4.8 Km) for about ten minutes before landing at its destination.

A special overflight permit was required for this ten-minute mission, and the police closed down as a precaution the streets on which the device, which flew at 120 meters of altitude, was traveling.

But experience (successfully achieved, as a woman was transplanted) shows that drone delivery technology, which already works for packages purchased over the Internet in some countries, can realistically be exploited to improve the current organ transport system and reduce cost.

This is the result of three years of work to prove that you can actually transport organs safely in an unmanned airplane, reports Baltimore Sun.

How This Begun?

It all started with Dr. Joseph Scalea, a transplant surgeon, who was frustrated by how costly and inefficient traditional organ transport was. If an organ is going a long way, it usually requires transportation on a long commercial flight or expensive charter.

The delivery we’re talking about here was made by AiRXOS, which uses UAV technology to help “government agencies, municipalities, regional aviation authorities and private sector operators,” according to its website. This was the first reported case of transporting a replacement organ with a drone.

Medicine would thus slowly integrate the Internet sales sector, and Google has already obtained authorization to begin drone deliveries this year in some cities in Australia and the United States.

“I believe that in about five years we will begin to see more regular organ deliveries,” Dr. Joseph Scalea, a surgeon and project leader at the University of Maryland Medical Center, told AFP.

“And drone deliveries will become widely feasible in five years’ time,” he said.

Time is the biggest problem for organ transport. In 2018, 1.5 percent of organs did not reach their destination, and 4 percent were delayed by at least two hours, according to the U.S. network in charge of the organ donation system.

Currently, organs are transported by specialized companies that make them travel aboard regular airlines or charter small airplanes if necessary. In the city, transportation is often slowed by traffic jams.

The Future

Dr. Scalea envisions a future where drones will travel from hospitals to airports, or between hospitals in the same city.

“There are many potential advantages, even in the short distances of six, seven or eight kilometers,” he said.

A Small Drone Delivered A Kidney In Order To Perform A Transplant
Moment when the drone delivers a kidney for transplant at UMMC in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: AFP)

The doctor, who founded a data management company for transporting conventional and “non-conventional” organs, compares the system to a Uber-type service, which is more flexible and less expensive than the “taxis” currently in use.

According to him, the average cost of transporting a kidney is $5,000.

Transportation of unmanned aircraft will not solve the shortage of organ donations, but it can help in cases of sensitive medical deliveries and, more importantly, reduce associated costs.

It can also reduce vibrations and the amount of time spent in urban or air transport, which is critical, since organs can only survive outside a body for a certain amount of time.

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