Last week, an unmanned drone developed by the University of Maryland delivered a donor kidney to the college's Medical Center, where it was successfully transplanted into a woman whose kidneys began failing over eight years ago.
Though the drone only traveled for about 10 minutes over a route less than three miles in length, the feat marks the first time that a drone has been used to safely transport an organ.
The drone was custom-made with several powertrains to ensure that in the event of a technical failure there would be several backup generators to keep the drone moving safely.
The aircraft was also equipped with a "specially designed, high-tech apparatus for maintaining and monitoring a viable human organ," which measured and regulated the temperature, barometric pressure, and vibration of the compartment.
In terms of aircraft hardware, the drone – which was weighed down by cameras, tracking tech, safety systems, and the organ itself – generated lift via eight rotors. Movement was tracked by ground crew members at multiple locations.
The recipient of the kidney, Trina Glispy, made a full-recovery and is now living life sans dialysis – just 11 days after the operation took place on April 18. As the need for donor organs vastly outweighs the supply, reducing the time spent between removing an organ from a donor and transplanting it into a patient increases the viability of the organ and the length of its survival.
The New York Times reported drone delivery team leader Dr Joseph R. Scalea noting that this service is "like Uber for organs."
According to Dr Christopher Marsh, director of the transplant programme at Scripps Green Hospital, California, it was "too early to pass judgment on the reliability of delivering organs by drone." It is, however, a big step in the right direction. – AFP Relaxnews