Watch a Flying Drone Deliver an Organ Transplant Lung to a Hospital

When it comes to organ transplants, time is of the essence. As soon as a heart or lung is made available, both the medical teams and the patient need to act quickly in order to get the new organ in the body as soon as possible. Otherwise, they risk the organ deteriorating and becoming so damaged that it’s unable to be transplanted.

One of the hurdles to this process is getting an organ from one hospital to another. While it might seem like a simple matter of getting it from point A to B, it can be incredibly difficult in dense urban areas with high levels of traffic. With the clock ticking, that’s precious time that can’t be wasted.

That’s why researchers in Canada have turned to drones to whisk away donated organs to the patients who need them. In a study published Dec. 21 in the journal Science Robotics, the team modified a drone typically used in aerial photography to carry a transplant organ from one hospital to another. The study’s authors successfully used the device to transport a donated lung across the city of Toronto.

Check out a video of the special delivery below courtesy of Tech Xplore:

Along with being customized to carry the organ payload, the drone also had parachutes and a recovery system added in order to ensure the safety of the lung. After making roughly 400 test flights to make sure that everything worked properly, the team carried the donated organ from Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital more than a mile away where the lung was successfully delivered and implanted in the patient.

While impressive, this isn’t the first time that a drone has been used to deliver organs for transplant. In 2019, the first-ever drone-delivered organ took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center when a kidney was delivered to a waiting patient.

The latest proof-of-concept flight added further proof that drones can be feasibly used to cut down on organ delivery time. Avoiding traffic congestion and also potential automobile issues helps ensure that the much-needed organ gets to where it needs to go in a quick and timely manner.

Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that they don’t get lost like so many of our UberEats and DoorDash deliveries.

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