University Of Maryland Medical School Uses New Drone To Transport Donor Organs

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A pioneering medical breakthrough that will help organ transplant recipients was announced by the University of Maryland Medical School.

Drone technology was developed by the University’s School of Medicine and Engineering to transport donor organs. The LG-1,000 is the first-ever organ delivery drone and weighs 50 lbs.

“People asked us three years ago how are you ever going to make this happen,” Joseph Scalea, director of pancreas transplantation at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said. “Here it is, we’ve done it. We moved the first-ever organ by drone and we put it into a person, and it’s functioning beautifully.”

The first organ drone transport happened one week ago in Baltimore when a kidney was delivered from the Living Legacy Foundation to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Heliport.

“Literally the drone landed on the helipad at Shock Trauma and then the surgery took place at the medical center the following morning,” Mohan Suntha, University of Maryland Medical Center President and CEO, said.

University of Maryland doctors in Baltimore said the unmanned aircraft system could provide organ deliveries that, in many cases, could be faster, safer and more widely available than traditional transport methods.

“I think moving forward, we’re going to need bigger, faster drones,” Scalea said. “We’re going to need strategic partners that want to help us make this reality. I think if we do this right and do this smart, we can save lives.”

The drone traveled 2.8 miles, and the kidney recipient, a 44-year-old Baltimore woman, is well and back at home.

“If not for the generosity of a family that was going through arguably one of the worst days of their life, does this mission happen,” Charlie Alexander, President of the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, said.

The flight was a collaboration between transplant physicians and researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, aviation and engineering experts at the University of Maryland, the University of Maryland Medical Center and Collaborators at the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland.

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