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The drone delivers the lungs to the transplant recipient – primarily in medicine

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View of the drone with a transport container.

View of the drone with a transport container.
Image: Unither Bioélectronique

It took only six minutes, but a successful flight from Western Hospital in Toronto to General Hospital in Toronto demonstrated the effectiveness of using drones to quickly and safely transport lungs for transplantation.

Alain Hodak, a 63-year-old engineer, became the first person in history to receive a pair of lungs from a delivery drone. The dispatch took place in Toronto on September 25, when the drone landed on the roof of a Toronto General Hospital at about 1:00 am local time, according to the Canadian Press. reports via CBC.

Shaf Keshavji, chief surgeon at the Canadian University Health Network and professor at the University of Toronto, was there to receive and inspect the precious package.

Surgeon Shaf Keshavji with his very valuable cargo.

Surgeon Shaf Keshavji with his very valuable cargo.
Image: Shaf Keshavji

“It was very interesting to see him pass over tall buildings,” he said. said reporters. “I really breathed a sigh of relief when he landed and I was able to … see that everything was okay.”

The fact that everything was fine is not accidental. The drone flight from Toronto Western Hospital took only six minutes, but took 18 months of planning and preparation. Unither Bioélectronique engineers had to develop a lightweight a shipping container capable of withstanding vibrations and sudden changes in height and air pressure, as well as other environmental influences. The team trained with dummies, performed drop tests and equipped a carbon fiber container with an emergency parachute and GPS system.

Drone during testing against the backdrop of the CN Tower.

Drone during testing against the backdrop of the CN Tower.
Image: Unither Bioélectronique

In the past, drones transported organs for transplantation, including the kidneys, cornea and pancreas, but the lungs presented an additional problem. According to the Canadian press reports that about 80% of donated lungs cannot be used due to problems associated with insufficient oxygenation or non-compliance with minimum functional standards. And, like any organ transplanted, timing is of the essence; the sooner the organ is delivered to the patient, the better. Hence the desire to deliver organs by air, and not along busy city roads.

Martina Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, the parent company of Unither Bioélectronique, based in Quebec, chose Toronto General Hospital because it was the first hospital to perform lung transplants (1983) and double lung transplants (1986). The millionaire, founder of SiriusXM satellite radio, said that she “felt that the karma of the universe would be correct if the first ever Drone transplants were also done at Toronto General Hospital. “

A drone lands on the roof of a general hospital in Toronto.

A drone lands on the rooftop of a general hospital in Toronto.
Image: Unither Bioélectronique

With this first successful shipment, United Therapeutics can look forward to more ambitious and ambitious advances. The company would like expand the range their decent drones and build units capable of flying 100 miles (160 km) and then 200 miles (320 km). Ultimately, United Therapeutics would like to supply the lungs, heart, and kidneys throughout North America. Other companies working in this area include American companies AD Airlines and AlarisPro Transport and China’s EHang.

More: Third injection of Moderna boosts immune response in transplant recipients


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