Canada: Transplant drone transport to Toronto

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A Canadian surgeon performed “what had never happened before”: yes transplant a lung, which had been transported a few minutes earlier by a drone, between two hospitals in its center Toronto, in Canada.

“We have shown, and this is a very important point, that it can be done without risk,” the doctor told AFP. Saf Kesavji, who worked with a technical team for two years to make this flight happen.

During the night, the drone flew over a distance of 1.2 km in less than 10 minutes, starting its flight from the hospital. Toronto Western to later land on the roof of the city general hospital.

The lungs were then successfully transplanted into a 60-year-old patient with pulmonary fibrosis. The transfer, which took place at the end of last month, was done with the help of a drone with a special refrigerator “that kept the temperature parameters of the instrument” in order for it to be “viable for transplantation”.

“I believe that the technologies of unmanned aerial vehicles have a huge potential to be introduced in the health sector,” he said. Michael Cardinal, Vice President of Unither Bioélectronique, the biotechnology company that performed the flight.

With the help of drones, the implant crossed the “urban and complex” environment of downtown Toronto in an automated way, under human supervision.

“The challenge now is to adapt this technology to make it accessible to patients around the world,” he said. Kesavji, a specialist in lung transplantation, recalling that the lung is “the most sensitive of all human organs” to be maintained and transported.

Time is the most critical constraint on organ transfer. Experience shows that drone delivery technology could actually be used to improve the existing instrument transfer system and reduce costs.

In April 2019, an unmanned aircraft made a similar flight transporting a kidney to a hospital in Maryland, at USA.

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