Updated: May 12, 2021 12:30 PM
Created: May 12, 2021 11:54 AM
A team of medical professionals and drone flight specialists believe the future of organ transplants has arrived, and it comes with a better way to save lives.
"The opportunity is to reduce the number of people that touch that particular organ, to get it to the hospital, to get it to that particular patient as quickly as possible. That's what we're really trying to do here," Susan Gunderson, the founder and CEO of LifeSource, said.
As part of a research project, a drone carried a human pancreas for the first time.
The trial run left Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids last Wednesday, flew a 10-mile circuit over the Mississippi River and then returned to Mercy Hospital.
Researchers performed a biopsy on the pancreas before and after the flight but found no changes, meaning its condition was the same as when it took off.
The drone was built by MissionGo, and LifeSource helped obtain the organ. Allina Health then brought the organ from the donor to Mercy Hospital.
"When we saw the drone take off with the research organ, it just lifted my heart to see that, to see that innovation in practice, it was really, very cool," Gunderson added.
Other organs have been transported by drones before but never a pancreas.
LifeSource said the drone will help achieve an ambitious goal of transplanting 1,000 organs per year in the Upper Midwest by 2027. Last year, 603 were completed.
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