"We have proven - and this is a very important point - that it is possible to do it safely," says Dr Shaf Keshavjee, who worked with a technical team for two years on a small feat: delivery by lungs drone.
In the dead of night, the aircraft flew 1.2 km in just under ten minutes over Toronto, taking off from the Toronto Western Hospital and landing on the roof of the General Hospital.
The lungs were then successfully transplanted into a patient in his sixties with pulmonary fibrosis.
Transport was carried out using a refrigerated container "which maintains the thermal parameters of the organ" so that the latter is "viable for transplantation".
“I think that drone technologies have immense potential for it to become a standard in terms of healthcare,” explains Mikaël Cardinal, vice-president at Unither Bioelectronics, the biotechnology company that carried out the flight.
"The most fragile of all organs"
The device traversed the “urban and complex” environment of downtown Toronto in an automated fashion, with human supervision.
"The challenge now is to adapt this technology to make it accessible to patients around the world," adds Dr. Keshavjee, a lung transplant specialist, who recalls that the lung is "the most fragile of all organs" to keep and protect. to carry.
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In 2019, a drone made a similar flight by delivering a kidney to a hospital in Maryland, United States.
These devices have also been used for several years in Rwanda to deliver blood bags between hospitals and isolated localities, but also in Tanzania, where medicines, emergency equipment and vaccines are transported in this way to regions that are difficult to access. .
The transport of organs by drone in an urban environment is more complicated and risky.
But it has the advantage of saving precious time.
This technology, already operational for parcels purchased online in several countries, could also reduce costs.