Drone carries human kidney on record 10-mile flight through Las Vegas desert

Drones have carried human kidneys on a record 10-mile flight across a desert.

Experts hailed the trials an "exciting step forward" for reducing transplant delivery times and improving safety.

Researchers at MissionGO announced two successful test flights carrying a kidney and corneas via drones in Las Vegas, US, last week.

The first transported the eye tissues from one hospital to another two-and-a-half miles away on September 17.

And a second flight delivered research kidneys from an airport to a location outside a small town 10 miles away later that day.

MissionGO president Anthony Pucciarella said “these flights are an exciting step forward” after biopsies confirmed the kidneys suffered no damage during the flight.

Human organs are normally transported via commercial aircraft which have seen flight numbers slashed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Matthew Cooper said organs are discarded if none are available to transport them before they become nonviable, USA TODAY reports.

The Vice president of the United Network for Organ Sharing said: "You can think about (drones) being pretty revolutionary in breaking down one of the obstacles to increasing the number of organs utilized and decreasing discards."

A kidney can survive outside the body for 36 to 48 hours after it has been recovered, studies have shown.

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Dr Cooper said drones could shorten transportation time by flying over road traffic – improving the chances of transplants being useful.

He added they could also improve safety for surgeons, who have died in plane or helicopter crashes on their way to retrieve an organ.

Further research is underway to improve the weight the delivery drones can carry.

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Ryan Henderson, lead UAS pilot for MissionGO, warned the aircraft could hold only about 22 pounds, limiting the amount of ice the team would usually pack for a commercial flight.

Joe Ferreira, CEO and president of the Nevada Donor Network, said hundreds of flights are still needed to test the reliability and safety of drone delivery.

But added: “We’re in the beginning stages of providing this mode of transport on behalf of the heroic donors and their courageous families.”

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