A Cessna drone was used by the Texas Alliance for Organ Sharing to transport organs from Lubbock to Oklahoma City, then to San Antonio and back to Lubbock in a test conducted Nov. 15. Photo credit: Courtesy of the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
A recent trial using a drone to transport organs in Texas and Oklahoma cut travel time by more than half, contributing to the consortium’s goal of using the technology to save more lives in the near future.
The “drone” – an optional manned aircraft – is a single-engine Cessna light aircraft that is currently in the testing phase. The unmanned vehicle is designed to carry up to 400 pounds of cargo, including donated organs.
During the first phase of testing on November 15, the drone, which carried kidneys, liver and pancreas as well as blood and tissue, was launched from Texas Tech University’s Reiss Technology Center in Lubbock and flew 350 miles to Oklahoma City.
In the next phase of testing, the drone flew 471 miles to San Antonio International Airport. She then returned to the Reese Technology Center.
The flight from Dallas was carried out using robotic technology, the first time donated organs have been transported by a drone on this scale. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, the pilot was on board for safety reasons even though the aircraft was controlled entirely by technology.
“I didn’t notice anything. We followed the flight. We have seen slight delays due to wind changes,” said Clara Guerrero, communications director for the Organ Sharing Alliance of Texas. “The only difference I saw was that we were probably late.” “In ten minutes.”
The aim of the trial was to find out whether drone technology offers a faster and more efficient way to transport donated organs, which need to be delivered to the recipient as quickly as possible, to patients who need them.
Guerrero said hearts and lungs need to be transplanted within eight hours, livers within 12 hours and kidneys within 36 hours.
“You save hours. “It also means the organ becomes more viable,” Guerrero said. “That person doesn’t have to wait as long for the organ to arrive. “We are saving lives at an ever faster rate.”
According to Guerrero, a trip that would have taken more than 20 hours by car or truck took 12 hours and 15 minutes for test participants.
When the organs arrived in Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Lubbock, they were examined and determined to be transplantable. They were then donated for clinical research and not transplanted.
The Texas Alliance for Organ Sharing Join two similar organizations -Share life Oklahoma City et Gift of life Houston – in partnership withMatadors Union, who sponsored the experiment.
The goal of the consortium is to accelerate the research and development of commercial operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for applications such as transport of purchased organs, search and rescue services, crop management, rural healthcare, renewable energy infrastructure, livestock production and much more.
According to a press release from the Reiss Technology Center, the Nov. 15 test was needed to prove that drones traveling at speeds of 200 per mile “promise to rapidly transform the ability to deliver critical supplies in rural and urban environments.”
“Every nine minutes someone dies because they don’t have a life-saving organ,” Guerrero said. “There are 10,000 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant in Texas.”
Guerrero said the use of drone technology for organ delivery could happen in the “near future.” The consortium is seeking approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which limits flight routes between cities.
The Matador UAS Consortium aims to show how drone technology can be used to address some of these limitations.
Following FAA approval, Member Air Transport will be used to transport members to rural areas in South Texas, including Edinburg, McAllen and Brownsville.