A Kidney For Transplant Was Delivered By Drone For The First Time Ever

Gabriel Garcia Marengo / CC

A kidney scheduled for transplant was delivered by a drone for the first time ever, said the University of Maryland Medical Center, in a move they say could make organ delivery safer and more affordable. The drone was custom-built to monitor the organ in the air in real time as it was delivered on April 19 and send updates to personnel handling the transplant, the hospital said in a statement released Friday. The recipient of the delivered kidney was a 44-year-old woman from Baltimore who spent eight years on dialysis before undergoing the transplant. “As a result of the outstanding collaboration among surgeons, engineers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), organ procurement specialists, pilots, nurses, and, ultimately, the patient, we were able to make a pioneering breakthrough in transplantation,” said Joseph Scalea, project lead and one of the surgeons who performed the transplant at UMMC, in a statement. Prior to the initial delivery, researchers tested out the drone by delivering items such as saline, blood tubes, and a healthy but non-viable human kidney. Doctors believe the use of drones to make organ deliveries could make them more widely available than traditional methods of transporting organs.

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