Drones Have Now Been Used To Deliver Lungs For Medical Transplant


An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: The world’s first drone delivery of lungs has gone down in history as a success. Unither Bioelectronique, a bioengineering firm focused on organ transportation, recently completed a “proof-of-concept” flight in which a pair of human lungs were shipped via drone to the transplant site in about six minutes. The lungs were flown from the Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital, where Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, surgeon-in-chief of Canada’s University Health Network, received the cargo at about 1 a.m. He needed the lungs for a transplant he was performing that very day on a male engineer who’d soon become the first transplant patient to receive his “new” lungs by drone.
Though the circumstances of the trip were urgent, the trip itself was 18 months in the making. Organs have been shipped by drone before, but lungs are particularly sensitive to environmental shifts during transport, with a majority of donated lungs rendered unusable by insufficient oxygenation. In order to make the trip worthwhile, engineers at Unither Bioelectronique had to design a lightweight carbon fiber shipping container that could withstand vibrations and in-flight changes in elevation and barometric pressure. Preparation involved practice flights and drop tests using simulation lung packages. The drone and its container counterpart were fitted with a parachute and an advanced GPS system, as the drone would fly through the air unmanned. “This innovation in the transportation of organs has the potential to significantly increase the transfer efficiency between donors and recipients, especially in congested urban areas,” Unither Bioelectronique says of the trip on their website. “Through this project, we have established an important stepping stone for future organ delivery that ultimately will open the door for large-scale adoption of larger fully autonomous, electrically-powered, environmentally-friendly drones… for transplant across trans-continental distances.”

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October 15, 2021 at 09:35PM