On 19th April 2019, for the first time ever, a drone successfully delivered a donated kidney at the University of Maryland Medical Centre.
Some researchers, physicians and aviation engineering experts from the University of Maryland Medical Centre recently built the drone to send kidney to surgeons in the hospital. They designed the drone to monitor the organ in real time and send updates.
The kidney transplant was also successfully carried out on a 44-year-old patient who had been on dialysis for eight years.
Experts say the faster an organ is transplanted, the better it works. The transportation of the organ is one of the most complex and crucial parts of a transplant. Most times they deliver organs using chartered or commercial flights. But for the first time ever, the drone delivery took only about five minutes.
Statistics by the United Network for Organ Sharing suggest that only about 1.5 per cent of donor organ shipments make it to their intended destinations. About four per cent of the deliveries also encounters over two hours of unexpected delays. Also, in 2018 alone, there were about 114,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list.
This first every drone delivery took years of research and tests. Experts built the first-ever specially designed high-tech apparatus for monitoring and maintaining a viable organ to support the technology. There have also been other similar ones before it but none of its kind. Before now, drones have transported saline, test tubes and other medical materials. On 26th March 2019, United Parcel Service (UPS) launched the first-ever blood sample-carrying drone.
The dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Engineering, Darryll J. Pines said the new ground-breaking technology has the potential to help widen the donor organ pool. It will also provide greater access to transplantation that will, in turn, enhance human life.