A drone flew a human kidney for more than 10 miles across the Las Vegas desert, marking the longest organ delivery flight via unmanned aircraft in the world, officials said.
The historic flight happened on Sept. 17 and was one of two successful test drone runs carrying a human organ and tissue in Nevada that day, MissionGO, a provider of unmanned aviation solutions, and the Nevada Donor Network, announced last week.
The first drone transported research corneas 1.8 miles in 5 minutes from the Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center to the St. Rose Dominican Hospital, both in Clark County.
The second drone flight delivered the research kidney 10.3 miles in about 25 minutes from an airport to a location outside of a small town in the Las Vegas desert.
That flight surpassed the distance of a record flight in April 2019 when MissionGO team members delivered the first kidney by drone that was then successfully transplanted into a patient.
“These flights are an exciting step forward – the research conducted during [the] test flights are another data point to illustrate that unmanned aircraft are a reliable mode of transportation for life-saving cargo,” said MissionGO’s president, Anthony Pucciarella.
MissionGO says that the use of drones “in a multimodal transportation chain will reduce the time between organ donation and transplantation, reduce the carbon footprint by using electric aircraft, and potentially expand organ procurement efficiency, saving more lives.”
Joe Ferreira, the CEO and president of Nevada Donor Network, said, “The success of [the] tests launches us into the future of organ transportation and will enable us to be even more successful in the coming years.”
“The work we’re doing now to maximize the gift of life and health can only be amplified with the services that MissionGO demonstrated,” Ferreira added. “The future of organ donation and transplantation will be defined by innovation.”
MissionGO has additional flight tests planned for later this year and throughout 2021.