First kidney delivered by drone via “Uber for organs”
Drone technology could make organ transport quicker and safer

In a development to push for faster and safer organ transport, a kidney needed for a transplant has been delivered by a drone for the first time ever. Said drone was fitted with equipment to monitor the kidney along its five kilometer journey to its recipient Рa 44-year-old woman who had spent eight years on dialysis prior to the transplant.

The drone required a special clearance from aviation regulators, taking off at 1:00 am on April 19 and flying to at a height of 400 feet (120 meters) for about ten minutes before reaching its destination.

Doctor Joseph Scalea, who was among the surgeons that performed the transplantation, praised the project’s success and said drone deliveries could help overcome delays that destroy an organ’s viability,¬†“The next run could be over 30 miles, or 100. The distance is relatively unimportant. The most important part is, we were able to implement drone technology into the current system of transplantation and transportation.”

Organ transport issues

Currently, transport methods involve expensive chartered flights or even variable commercial flights, are often delayed, and cost around $5,000 (Php260,000). According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, about 114,000 people in 2018 were on waiting lists for an organ transplant in the United States.

About 1.5% of deceased donor organ shipments did not make it to their intended destination while nearly 4% of organ shipments were unanticipatedly delayed for two or more hours. Scalea, who founded a company that manages data for organ shipments, likened the system to an Uber-like service which would be less expensive.

Story and photo from AFP

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