A donor kidney has been delivered to surgeons at a US hospital via drone, in the first flight of its kind. The US flight required a specially-designed drone which was able to maintain and monitor the organ.
The recipient, a 44-year-old from Baltimore, had waited eight years for the transplant. She said of the unusual delivery method: “This whole thing is amazing. Years ago, this was not something that you would think about.”
“Delivering an organ from a donor to a patient is a sacred duty with many moving parts. It is critical that we find ways of doing this better,” said Joseph Scalea, assistant professor of surgery at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), and one of the surgeons who performed the transplant.
The three-mile journey required a lot of new technology, including a custom-made drone capable of carrying the additional weight of an organ, which also needed on-board cameras and organ tracking, and communications and safety systems for a flight over an urban, densely-populated area.
Charlie Alexander, chief executive of The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, a charity working to increase organ donation, said: “If we can prove that this works, then we can look at much greater distances of unmanned organ transport.