Jump to content
  • Welcome to Recreational Flying!
    A compelling community experience for all aviators
    Intuitive, Social, Engaging...Registration is FREE.
    Register Log in
Sign in to follow this  
Admin

A drone flew for more than an hour to deliver a fresh human kidney - and it arrived healthy

Recommended Posts

image.png

 

A trial to deliver a functional human kidney to a patient by drone has been declared a success.

 

Back in March, a team from the University of Maryland Medical Centre were notified that a kidney was available. It was healthy enough for research, but not quite fit for a human patient.

 

It was, however, perfect for the team and associates at the university’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, to test a theory about whether drones could deliver human organs safely.

 

First, the kidney had to make a 24-hour, 1600km trip to Baltimore by regular means.

 

For the drone tests, a carrier device was developed called Human Organ Monitoring and Quality Assurance Apparatus for Long-Distance Travel (HOMAL).

 

HOMAL is “designed to measure temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, vibration, and location via global positioning system (GPS) during transportation”. There’s a patent pending on that.

 

The 11cm x 5cm kidney was given a biopsy before and after the 4.5 hours of testing, which included 62 minutes of flight time with the drone.

 

The drone itself was a DJI M600 Pro – worth nearly $8000, but chosen for this experiment because its six motors sit directly under their rotors, keeping heat away from the HOMAL. Like so:

 

kidney_drone.jpgPicture: University of Maryland

In the next 24 hours, the drone carried the kidney on 14 missions. The longest was just over an hour and the maximum distance was 3 miles (4.8km).

 

The team chose the 3-mile mark as it “models the distance between hospitals in cities such as Baltimore”.

 

And the kidney came through all of it in better than expected health, according to the biopsies. In fact, no damage was recorded, and it was noted that the organ had actually been subject to less vibration stress than it would during a regular delivery mission aboard a turboprop plane.

 

BI was reporting on medical drones as a future technology just two years ago. Now, the University of Maryland Medical Center has made a huge step forward in showing drones can deliver organs in surprisingly good health.

 

“I think that what we did here is very cool, very exciting,” Dr Joseph Scalea of the University of Maryland Medical Center told IEEE.

 

“This is the first step among a series that I think will get patients closer to their life-saving organs quicker, and with better outcomes.”

 

Scalea believes that another test to actually deliver a kidney and transplant it successfully might be achieved “early in 2019”.

 

 

Organs on demand

 

 

The next hurdle is speed and regulations.

 

National figures show that around 20% of donated kidneys in the US are discarded because they can’t get to the matching donor quick enough. That’s as many as 2700 life-saving organs in the bin each year.

 

Right now, the speed and payload capacity of drones is well below what’s needed to make a dent in that figure.

 

Ideally, researchers say, “a transplant drone would need the range and speed (480-800 kmh, or 300-500 mph) of a jet airplane”.

 

Those drones can can hit 150kmh and above are for the most part too small to carry an organ payload.

 

But we’ve seen at least one Australian company developing drones that can lift well in excess of the weight of a kidney, and closing in on speeds of 200kmh.

 

As for regulations that require a drone to be always in sight of the operator, Scalea is confident the current “national discussion” about drone tech is heading in the right direction.

 

“I think that these things are going to be addressable,” he told IEEE.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next step is drones EXTRACTING these organs right on the scene of road crash, even before road police arrived. Black painted and noiseless.

 

Another one hipsters nonsence. To deliver live organ from LA to NY, SYD to MEL, where it is in need - this is the real task and the real problem. Donors appear randomly in time and places, rare recipients that could get the organ can be far away, organs can not be delayed for long time. But if there is a organ (kidney) in one (big, well equipped, able to extract and prepare the organ for transportation) hospital and recipient somewhere nearby, in hour of drone flight (less than 100km) - why drones and anything else? It does not allow to extend catchment area, does not reduce risks or improves conditions. This kidney travelled 24H before this drone without damage, by usual medavia and ground transport, how 1-hour drone delivery can be critical if such logistics already exists?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Next step is drones EXTRACTING these organs right on the scene of road crash, even before road police arrived. Black painted and noiseless.

 

Another one hipsters nonsence. To deliver live organ from LA to NY, SYD to MEL, where it is in need - this is the real task and the real problem. Donors appear randomly in time and places, rare recipients that could get the organ can be far away, organs can not be delayed for long time. But if there is a organ (kidney) in one (big, well equipped, able to extract and prepare the organ for transportation) hospital and recipient somewhere nearby, in hour of drone flight (less than 100km) - why drones and anything else? It does not allow to extend catchment area, does not reduce risks or improves conditions. This kidney travelled 24H before this drone without damage, by usual medavia and ground transport, how 1-hour drone delivery can be critical if such logistics already exists?

 

Yeah. This is pretty much just self justification hype. 

 

The reality is that donors are usually alive but in donor state for days while in ICU having formal brain death testing to be sure the patient won’t survive and continue to use the organs themself. 

 

Sure there are occasional situations where  it is different but they are few and far between. 

 

Then there is complex compatability testing to be done all while the donor is kept alive AND planning  for harvesting  AND recipient organizing takes place. 

 

Usually the harvest team ( this is a highly specialised and critical skill - they can’t be just harvested by the local GP who does the occasional appendix) travels significant distance to get the organs ( frequently they happen in regional centres and then travels back with the organs to the centre where the transplant will take place. They harvest team are often  part of the implant team so often they are needed just as much as the organ. 

 

But even if not the organs usually travel far further and far longer than can be delivered by a drone. And there are a multitude of more secure and controlled methods than drones. 

 

The hype around all the technology tends to ignore the real practicalities that are actually far more important than the often minimal or non existent gains technology might bring. 

 

(And don’t get me started about  the ignorant hype around remote/distant robot surgery by Tele links)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you quickly learn when a drone disappears into the distance, wind speed is the key factor.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As you quickly learn when a drone disappears into the distance, wind speed is the key factor.

 

And all the other factors that could could cause loss of the drone or its cargo. 

 

Including technological/mechanical issues, eagles, nefarious activities of people. 

 

The scarcity of donor organs is so severe that if I were a patient I think I’d want the precious cargo in someone’s care the entire time not released out into an uncontrolled environment where anything could cause its loss. 

 

These organs aren’t the equivalent of a book or a pizza. In monetary terms I’d guess each is worth hundreds of thousands or perhaps even more dollars - and if you asked anyone  to justify and guarantee delivery sending the same amount in cash across town in a drone he’d change his tune a bit. 

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's certainly a lot of Hype about drones at the moment. You could have the kidney in a pie and easily replace if or have a banana instead if it didn't turn up or was too cold.. Can the cargo be refrigerated? Unlikely.  Drones can't lift efficiently or go far and their BASIC concept dictates that and no development will alter it that much. Nev

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later for your post to be seen If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...