In September, a groundbreaking drone test in Canada successfully delivered lungs for transplant, marking a game-changing moment for organ transplant science. The drone transported the human donor lung in just five minutes, compared to 25 minutes by road. This achievement suggests that drone delivery could be especially beneficial for organs like hearts and lungs with shorter tolerable times on ice.
Shaf Keshavjee, director of Toronto General's lung transplant program, envisions drones someday carrying lungs long distances for specialized repair to make them transplant-ready. For now, though, he's focusing on the journey from airport to hospital—which takes 40 minutes in traffic and just eight by drone—and he anticipates the first such flights as early as this summer. He calls this work "The Last-Mile Model."
"When the Wright Brothers left Kitty Hawk, they flew only 120 feet the first time," Keshavjee says. "But now look at where air travel is."
Sadly, the recipient of the drone-delivered double lung transplant, 63-year-old Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis patient Alain Hodak, died in November.