United Network for Organ Sharing

Kidney delivered via custom made drone

In a first of its kind, a donor’s kidney was delivered to surgeons at a US hospital by means of a drone. The recipient was a 44-year old from Baltimore and had awaited the transplant for eight years. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) commonly known as a drone are seen as potentially beneficial to deliver medical products. In order to maintain and monitor the organ on its three-mile journey, the US flight required a custom-designed drone. The machine was crafted with high technology and was capable of carrying the weight of the organ. The flight was also well reimbursed with onboard cameras, organ tracking, safety systems, and communications for a flight over urban-densely-populated areas. In case of a failure of the aircraft, provisions for a parachute recovery system were also made available.

Since the journey of delivering an organ from a donor to a patient is a cumbersome process, the team at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) are looking for innovative ways to make the delivery more efficient, stated a statement made by the surgeons at UMSOM, who were responsible for the performing the transplant. Reports give due credit to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in-charge for collaborating with the organ procurement specialists, nurses, pilots and also with and for the patient.

A report by the United Network for Organ Sharing, a body responsible for organ transplants in the US, revealed that in 2018 there were nearly 114,000 people on the waiting lists. Among this 1.5 % of organs could not make it to the destination, while a smaller percentage of about 4% was delayed by two hours or more. The team at UMSOM aims to enhance transport safety measures in the future and is hopeful towards attaining unmanned organ transport missions, in addition to elevated safety measures.