Video: Transplant lungs delivered via drone

26 October 2021

A drone has delivered lungs for a transplant operation from Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital in what doctors and engineers call a world’s first.

The flight took just a few minutes, taking the organs into the sky, rather than the traditional modes of transport. While drones have transported other organs such as kidneys, corneas and a pancreas, this is the first lung delivery, doctors claim.

The drone delivery shows how far the technology has come after numerous tests have been conducted worldwide this and last year, transporting medical items, food, coffee, packages and other items.

In the video from the BBC, a drone is seen landing at one hospital in Toronto where engineers and doctors load up the organ in specialized packaging. It then takes off and travels to an adjacent hospital in the city where doctors retrieve the organ for use in surgery.

A custom-made case was manufactured from carbon fiber material designed to minimize any vibrations in the transport. Electronics then monitor the health of the organ along the way. United Therapeutics, which helped develop the drone and transportation system, said it has been developing drones that can fly up to 400 kilometers, which means longer drone flights could be possible in the future.

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