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Drones to the Rescue


by Chris Bate

Organ donation is a subject that divides people for a variety of reasons but whatever your views seeing or hearing of the successful outcomes certainly prove that it is worthwhile and anything that aims to improve this process needs to be considered.

On April 19th a test run was performed where a drone was used to deliver a Kidney to a patient at the University of Maryland Medical Centre (USA), the total journey was about 3 miles. The drone was custom-built to ensure that the organ maintained its best possible condition during the flight, it was also equipped with an on-board camera and tracker. Organs are only able to survive a few hours outside of the body so it’s crucial that they are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible, with delays that can be caused by traffic and other external factors its useful to have other options that could lead to greater success rates and reduce the number of organs that are wasted.

Last year in the US alone there were over 2,500 Kidneys that had to be discarded due to degrading before they could be transplanted, to put this into context…in the UK there are approximately 3,000 Kidney transplants per year, with over 5,000 still waiting!

Now we have all seen the disruption that drones have caused when in the wrong hands (closing Heathrow and Gatwick airports come to mind!) however there is clearly an opportunity here to take advantage of this technology for the better of peoples health and this isn’t the only example of drones being to aid medicine. One article that sticks in my mind is the use of defibrillator drones to combat cardiac arrest.


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