Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In Canada, lungs are flown by drones before transplanting

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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Promont | A Canadian surgeon at the end of September did “what has never been done before”: a lung transplant that was flown a few minutes earlier by a drone between two hospitals in downtown Toronto.

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“We have proven – and this is a very important point – that it is possible to do this without risk,” congratulates AFP Dr Shav Keshavjee, who worked with a technical team for two years to make this journey.

In the dead of night, the drone traveled 1.2 kilometers in just under ten minutes across the sky over the Canadian capital, took off from Toronto West Hospital and landed on the roof of the General Hospital.

The lungs were then successfully transplanted into a patient in his 60s with pulmonary fibrosis.

The drone was transported via a refrigerated container that “maintains the thermal parameters of the organ” so that the latter is “implantable”.

“I believe that drone technologies have tremendous potential to become a standard in terms of healthcare,” explains Michael Cardinal, vice president at Unither Bioelectronics, the biotech company that carried out the flight. The latter, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics of America, is incorporated in Quebec.

The device traversed the “urban and complex” environment of downtown Toronto in an automated manner, 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 remembers that the lung is the “most fragile organ” to preserve and protect. I carry.

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Time is the most important barrier to organ transplantation. Experience shows that drone delivery technology, which is already working for packages purchased online in some countries, can in fact be used to improve and reduce the cost of the existing organ transportation system.

In April 2019, a drone made a similar flight by delivering a kidney to a hospital in Maryland, United States.

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