A drone solutions provider, an organ procurement organization, and a Minnesota-based hospital have just proven that drones can successfully transport a human pancreas.
The historical test flight was conducted on May 5. It was made possible through a collaboration between MissionGO, LifeSource, and Mercy Hospital.
Carrying a research pancreas from Mercy Hospital, the organ delivery drone flew a 10-mile circuit over the Mississippi River, before returning back to base. The pancreas was monitored for the entire duration of the flight, with real-time organ location information being provided to all stakeholders.
The main aim of the test flight was to study the impact of drone transportation on a live organ. To do so, biopsies were conducted both pre- and post-flight. With no changes being found in the organ, the three organizations successfully demonstrated the viability, value, efficiency gains, and speed of transporting lifesaving organs via drones within the Twin Cities metro area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Organ delivery drones: a transformative healthcare solution
Acknowledging that organ delivery drones are an incredible innovation for health care, Robert Quickel, MD, vice president clinical service line, surgical procedural administration for Allina Health, says:
These test flights are an inspiring step in overcoming obstacles and increasing the number of viable, life-saving organs that our transplant patients so desperately need.
Frank Paskiewicz, an EVP for UAS Cargo Operations at MissionGO, adds:
The future is here – there’s a demand in the market for innovative and sustainable solutions in the commercial and medical industry. MissionGO is here to prove that unmanned aircraft are a reliable mode of transportation for precious cargo.
Organ transplant is a race against time. And delivery drones are a transformative solution that can help us to save more lives. MissionGO has been on a quest to prove this since 2019.
Last year also, the drone solutions provider conducted two test flights transporting research corneas and a research kidney in Las Vegas. Their successful demonstration paved the way for a new discussion to take place around an alternative method to shipping live organs interstate by delivery drones. A combination of drones and other transportation methods can both speed up the delivery and also reduce its carbon footprint.