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Need a new organ? Perhaps a drone will deliver one for you..

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A US University has successfully trialled delivering a live human kidney via drone.

The kidney in question was not quite in good enough condition to be transplanted into a patient but was suitable for medical research purposes.

A team from the University of Maryland’s Medical Center conducted the test. The kidney first made a 930 mile (1500 km) journey to arrive in Baltimore. Over a 24-hour period, the medical team trialled a number of different distances for a delivery and decided that 3 miles (4.8 km) was the sort of distance we would expect to see for a flight (from an airport to a hospital, for example) within a major city. The delivery drone for the trial was a DJI Matrice 600 Pro. The Matrice 600 is one of DJI’s premium drones, coming in at around $5000 USD. It was specifically picked because the motors sit below the props, meaning the heat did not accidentally end up cooking the kidney during flight.

When an actual organ transplant delivery occurs, every second counts. The longer the organ is out of a person, the more likely it is to fail once it’s put into a recipient’s body. During the flight, the kidney was monitored using a  specially developed device called a Human Organ Monitoring and Quality Assurance Apparatus for Long-Distance Travel (HOMAL). The longest period the kidney was in flight for was an hour and the maximum speed the Matrice 600 reached during transprt was 42 mph (68 km).

The kidney was given a biopsy (in which they take a tiny amount of tissue to assess the health of a part of the body) both before and after the flight. The kidney passed the tests with flying colors and the data showed that in fact, the kidney experienced fewer vibrations that it would if it were transported by plane.

A human kidney

 

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