In Medical First, Drone-Delivered Organ Used In Successful Transplant

A kidney transplant patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center last week became the first in the world to have her new organ delivered by drone.

The flight, which took place just after midnight on April 19, carried a donor kidney 2.6 miles from St. Agnes Hospital in Catonsville. The patient successfully received the organ later that morning.

Dr. Joseph Scalea, an assistant professor of surgery and director of the organ-drone lab at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said that through his personal experiences in surgery he became frustrated with the plodding pace at which organs were routinely transferred. With hopes of expediting the process, Scalea began working with a group of researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center three years ago, ultimately constructing the underpinnings of the organ-transporting drone that assisted its first successful surgery last week.

The drone advancement, combining human medicine and aviation technology in a brand-new way, is expected to make organ deliveries faster, safer, and more widely available than other transportation methods are capable of, Scalea said.

Researchers also worked with the Boston company AiRXOS, a subsidiary of GE Aviation. That company’s software platform monitored the flight.

“This flight demonstrated how air mobility can transform the delivery of medical care in ways that can have significant impact on lives,” AiRXOS CEO Ken Stewart said in a statement. “It lays the foundation for future advanced drone operations.”

Republished with the permission of WBAL News Radio.

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