Last month, in Canada, a 63-year old engineer received his lung transplant via drone delivery. This was the world’s first drone-delivered lung transplant. The drone flew for approximately 6 minutes from Toronto Western Hospital across the city to Toronto General Hospital to deliver the organ. The organ was packed in a lightweight, carbon fiber container suspended from the drone. This maiden voyage stems from Sirius Satellite Radio co-founder, Martine Rothblatt’s, desire to cut the wait-list in Canada. In 2020, 2,622 Canadians received transplants, 4,129 were on waiting lists and 276 died before an organ came available. Rothblatt started United Therapeutics in 1996 after his daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension, and the drone that delivered this lung belongs to Unither Bioelectronique, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unither.
In 2019, the first organ delivered by a drone was completed by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, with a drone-delivered kidney. Thereafter, MissionGo and Nevada Donor Network sent corneas on a 5-minute flight, a kidney on a 25-minute journey and, in May of this year, a pancreas was shipped via Minnesota’s skies.
This method is increasingly likely to become the norm in health care as a fast, safe way to deliver organs in the timeliest manner.