Date: 6th May 2019
For the first time ever, a drone was used to carry a kidney to a hospital in Baltimore for a transplant operation. The operation that followed was successful, marking the path for a new technological feat.
University of Maryland’s doctors and engineers developed the drone in an attempt to increase the pace of organ delivery for transplant operations. Many times, organs are delivered late due to the transport getting stuck in traffic.
The drone has been specially designed for the purpose of carrying live organs. It has a special cargo which maintains the health of the organ. Besides that, it has a parachute attached to the body which serves as the last resort if all aircraft functions fail.
The drone contains eight motors to support the machine, said Matt Scassero. Matt Scassero is the director of the University of Maryland’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site.
The test flight, which was remarkably successful, took 10 minutes as the drone travelled 4.8 kilometres. A transplant surgeon at the university’s Medical Centre, Joseph Scalea acknowledged the difficulty of getting organs delivered, to hospitals conducting transplant operations, due to transportation logistics. Any delay in the delivery of the organ is not only risky for the patient’s life but also for the organ’s life as well. Dr Scalea added that the drone would be able to increase the chances of patients’ lives being saved.
The drone is highly impressive as it contains systems which provide live data about, for example, the temperature to the medical team at the university. This kind of monitoring system, as Dr Scalea says, is absent even in today’s technologically advanced era.
The test flight landing was at a hospital in Baltimore, where the kidney was implanted into Trina Glispy. The patient had been going under dialysis for eight years prior to the transplant operation. Impressed by the drone’s work, she called it “amazing”.