For the first time, a drone has successfully delivered an organ for a transplant

Joseph Scalea, professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, will never forget that Alabama kidney that took 29 hours (29!) To reach his hospital. It goes without saying that when we talk about organs, every second counts and no, it is not a ready-made phrase: medical organ transport is one of the most complex issues in the medical world.

For this reason, Scalea has spent years working with doctors, aerospace engineers and medical transport experts to create a drone system that can overcome some of the operational limitations that organ movement has in large cities: traffic jams. And now they are in luck, they have achieved the first transfer of an organ by drone.

More than a proof of concept

The flight: On April 19, a drone brought a kidney from St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It was a short flight (about three kilometers in a straight line), but it is the culmination of a very interesting project: creating a drone that is not only capable of guaranteeing flight stability (it has eight rotors for it), but also of keeping it constant temperature and barometric pressure, control altitude, counteract vibration and constantly monitor the location of the pot.

The patient. Beyond the technical section, it is curious to get into the skin of the kidney receptor (always as far as possible). The recipient was Trina Glispy, a 44-year-old nursing assistant from Baltimore and with three children. And I say that it's curious to get into his skin, because he had been on dialysis for eight waiting for a transplant. It is true that the operation was successful and Glispy was discharged within a few days, but the tension of the wait had to be incredible.

The last step of a long project. It was not the first time it was used, of course. Before this flight it had been tested as a transport for saline, blood samples and other types of medical supplies. Even, from what they say from the University, it had been tested with live kidneys, but not viable for transplantation.

Obviously this is not the first time that a drone has been used for medical transport. The other day, without going any further, we were talking about the huge network that is up and running in Ghana, but this can be considered an important step. As I was saying, organ health transportation is one of the constant challenges of modern medicine: little steps like this are always good news.

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