My late brother Mark was a transplant surgeon. He told me how sometimes he'd be woken up in the middle of the night to fly to a nearby city to retrieve, say, a kidney, from someone who had just died (frequently in a motorcycle crash), then carry the organ on a plane to another city where he'd install the kidney into a waiting patient, and then fly back home. (He felt it important to personally retrieve the organ that he'd then be transplanting.) I thought of that process while reading about the first drone delivery of a donated kidney that resulted in a successful transplant for a 40-year-old woman who had been on dialysis for 8 years. The drone delivery system was designed by researchers from the University of Maryland and organ donation nonprofit the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. The kidney only traveled three miles but was a major step forward. From the New York Times:
The team’s leader, Dr. Joseph R. Scalea, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said he pursued the project after constant frustration over organs taking too long to reach his patients. After organs are removed from a donor, they become less healthy with each passing second. He recalled one case when a kidney from Alabama took 29 hours to reach his hospital.
The drone used in this month’s test had backup propellers and motors, dual batteries and a parachute recovery system, to guard against catastrophe if one component encountered a problem 400 feet in the air. Two pilots on the ground monitored it using a wireless network, and were prepared to override the automated flight plan in case of emergency. The drone also had built-in devices to measure temperature, barometric pressure and vibrations, among other indicators.
Dr. Scalea called the flight “proof of concept that this broken system can be innovated.”
For some children with severe epilepsy, the best treatment may be a very rare surgical procedure in which a large portion — even half — of the child’s brain is removed or disconnected. Amazingly, many of these individuals can relearn motor, language, and cognitive skills. How? The brain reorganizes itself and builds new connections. To […]
The European Medicines Agency approved a vaccine for the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. The vaccine has already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saving countless lives during an ongoing epidemic there. From Nature: The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to allow US pharmaceutical company […]
Apparently a 6-year-old got ahold of someone’s prescription medication and decided to experiment with her friends. Arizona’s ABC15 reports: According to Phoenix Fire Department, four elementary school students took “what appears to be heart medication pills” on the school bus Thursday morning. Phoenix police say a 6-year-old girl took the prescription pills from an adult […]
When you’re planning a vacation, think about things from the airline’s point of view. Jet fuel is expensive. Airplane maintenance is expensive. Ergo, empty seats equal a lot of lost revenue. There are a few travel sites out there that can turn someone else’s canceled flight into your gain, but you’d be hard-pressed to find […]
Things break, and even in this disposable world, there’s a need to fix them. Up until recently, that’s been the crusty bottle of glue in your junk drawer, which is just as liable to coat your fingers as the thing you actually want to repair. Looks like there’s finally a Star Trek-level solution on the […]
Paying for things is all too easy online these days, and that’s why managing your money has gotten so hard. We’ve all done it: You sign up for a streaming subscription or gym membership, blow past the free trial date, and it becomes a part of your monthly expenses. Some of us juggle so many […]