Soon, drones could transport organs for transplant

Soon, drones could transport organs for transplant

Soon, human organs could be transported for transplant using drone technology. The National Design and Research Forum (NDRF) here is working on a project that aims to transport vital organs, including the heart, to recipients faster than the traditional method. This could potentially revolutionise the transportation of emergency organs.

The new method aims to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also called as drones. Dr K Ramachandra, director, NDRF, who is working on the project, said, “The drone will be designed to carry a weight of 20-25 kg with an ability to cover a distance of 100-150 km with absolute safety. We need funding from the government and approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The project is still in the initial stage and needs at least one-and-a-half years to complete.”

The initiative has been welcomed by the medical fraternity, but they are apprehensive about the safety aspects.

At the moment, organ transport is limited to the green corridor (signal-free road) method, even as there is a surge in organ transplants in India. “The organs are transported via road in a special ice box. They can also be transported in a highly specified machine — organ care system — which is extremely expensive. It is not being used in India now,” Dr Julius Punnen, senior consultant, cardiac surgeon, Narayana Health, said.

Appreciating the technology, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman and founder of Narayana Health, said drones should be able to carry a weight not less than 20 kg. “When the drone is flying with an organ, the recipient is already on the bed with the chest or abdomen open. If the organ drops, the recipient may not recover without a new organ. The drone technology should be highly safe,” he said.

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