An unusual piece of precious cargo just flew for 10 miles through Nevada’s skies — a human kidney.
Drone delivery company MissionGo sent a kidney into the skies above Nevada as part of a partnership with organ procurement organization Nevada Donor Network. The drone, which delivered a research kidney from an airport to a location outside of a small town in the Las Vegas desert, marks what MissionGo claims is the longest recorded organ delivery flight in drone history.
MissionGo also conducted another flight as part of the partnership with Nevada Donor Network to carry human tissue. That flight delivered research corneas from Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center to Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican, San Martín Campus. Both flights occurred on Sept. 17.
The cornea and kidney delivery is an important step for the drone industry, proving that drones can do far more than just deliver Chipotle burritos to hungry college students.
“The research conducted during last week’s test flights are another data point to illustrate that unmanned aircraft are a reliable mode of transportation for life-saving cargo, and…are safe for both the payload and people on the ground – even at greater distances,” said Anthony Pucciarella, MissionGO President.
Pucciarella said that — in many cases — drones deliver greater viability, value, efficiency and speed in urban environments than traditional methods like ground transportation.
This is not the first time a kidney has been delivered via drone. MissionGo, which is based in Maryland, has actually done it before in April 2019 as part of a test project at the FAA-designated University of Maryland UAS Test Site. That kidney was then successfully transplanted into a patient.
As far as next steps for MissionGo, medical professionals at MediGo, which is MissionGo’s sister company, will analyze the kidney and corneas to study the transplant tissue architecture and cell viability before and after drone flights, as scientists still aren’t sure about the effects that drone flight may have on human tissue.