A drone in Maryland just made history by becoming the first unmanned aircraft to ever deliver a donor kidney when it delivered the organ to doctors at the University Of Maryland for a transplant.
The organ was needed by 44 year-old Trina Glipsy, who had been on dialysis for eight years and was in kidney failure. The transplant was a success, and she was discharged from the hospital last week.
“The whole thing is amazing,” Trina said. “Years ago, this is not something that you would think about.”
This shows the potential of unmanned aircraft systems for providing organ deliveries, which experts say could be faster, safer, and more available than traditional delivery methods.
“We are very time sensitive,” explained Charlie Alexander, chief executive officer of The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. “We need to be able to work with helicopter services, charter flight services and ground transportation to make sure to get our teams to a donor case and make the gifted organ available to a recipient.”
“As astonishing as this breakthrough is from a purely engineering point of view, there’s a larger purpose at stake,” added Darryll J. Pines, Ph.D., the dean of the Maryland School of Engineering. “It’s ultimately not about the technology; it’s about enhancing human life.”
Dr. Joseph Scalea, who led the project and was one of the surgeons who performed the transplant, agreed that this could be a game changer in the way organs are delivered.
“The long game with these technologies is that we would be able to limit the amount of time that expires between explant and implant,” he said. “We’ll have access to immediate transportation. It will certainly be more efficient. I think there are a lot of upsides.”
Find out more in the video below!