CAN DRONES SAVE LIVES?
Thousands of Americans donate an organ every year, but not enough to meet the enormous demand. As of September 2020, more than 109,000 Americans were waiting for a transplant. When an organ does become available, every second counts. In 2019, around 2,700 donated kidneys had to be discarded because they could not be transported and transplanted in time. That’s why the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Engineering has pioneered the development of a special transport drone (the LG-1000, above) to mitigate the problem.
In a final test flight in April 2019, the LG-1000 carried a kidney from Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital to the University of Maryland Medical Center about 3 miles away, where a 44-year-old patient eagerly awaited it. Flying at 400 feet, the drone made the trip in 10 minutes. Dr. Joseph Scalea, a member of the surgical team who performed the transplant, says the distance is relatively unimportant: “The next run could be 30 miles, or 100. The most important thing is, we were able to implement drone technology into the current system of transplantation and transportation.”