In April, a drone successfully transported a donated kidney that was then successfully transplanted to a patient.
When it comes to organ transplantation, the faster, the better. In 2018, nearly 114,000 people were on the waiting lists for organ transplantation. However, CNN reports that around 1.5 percent of donor organ shipments don’t make it to their intended destination, and almost 4 percent encounter unexpected delays lasting two or more hours.
The organ-transporting drone’s flight in April covered 2.8 miles over a densely-populated part of Baltimore. In total, the flight took a little over 9 minutes.
Drone developers believe unmanned aircraft delivery could soon become the fastest, safest, and cheapest way to transport organs.
Physicians, researchers, aviation, and engineering experts teamed up to specially design the high-tech drone for maintaining and monitoring viable human organs. This included experts from the University of Maryland and the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which is a nonprofit that facilitates organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The custom-built delivery drone used in April was outfitted with several safeguards including backup propellers, motors, and dual batteries, a backup power distribution board, and a parachute recovery system.
“We built in a lot of redundancies, because we want to do everything possible to protect the payload,” said Anthony Pucciarella, director of operations at the test site.
“This whole thing is amazing,” said organ recipient Trina Glispy.
The 44-year-old had been on dialysis since 2011 and was discharged from UMMC five days after the successful transplant procedure.
“Years ago, this was not something that you would think about,” she said.
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