Organ donation test flights performed by drone over the Las Vegas valley

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — More industries are embracing unmanned aircraft as a way to move products from place to place. Earlier this week, 8 News Now told you how Walmart is using drones out of a local store to deliver COVID-19 testing kits.       

Now a medical group is taking it one step further.

Here in southern Nevada, drones are being tested to move human organs and tissue for life saving surgeries. 

MissionGO quietly carried out a test from Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center to Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican, San Martín Campus. 

The cargo? Corneas. 

From the aircraft and shipping container to personnel on the ground and in the air, this flight was six months in the making. 

A second test carried out over the desert carried a kidney.

These trial runs will help determine the viability, value and delivery speed via drones in big cities or over remote areas. 

“What is the effect on the cargo in this case a human organ of flying in an unmanned craft?” asked Scott Plank — CEO of MissionGO

For the Nevada Donor Network, tests with unmanned aircraft could open up new possibilities about how far and how quickly donations could be made, saving precious time for surgeons. Reliability and safety are top concerns. 

“This presents an interesting option where we reduce carbon footprint,” said Darren Lahrman — vice president of clinical affairs for Nevada Donor Network. “It does not require a team of people, it just requires a deliberate and well though out and well tested system transport safely whether it’s organs, tissues or critical supplies.”

Southern Hills Hospital admits having this type of technology on 1 October, when they were moving a donor from one hospital to another, would have been a game changer. 

There will be many more tests flights and experts examining organs and tissue to see what, if any, impacts drone travel may have. 

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