GRAPHIC: Drone delivers kidney for organ transplant in breakthrough flight

GRAPHIC: Drone delivers kidney for organ transplant in breakthrough flight
A transplanted human organ made its way to the University of Maryland Medical Center via drone, the first known flight of its kind. (Source: University of Maryland/WJZ/CNN)

BALTIMORE, MD (WJZ/CNN) - A new application of drone technology could end up saving countless lives

The University of Maryland School of Medicine teamed up with the engineering school to successfully deliver a kidney to surgeons using a drone.

From West Baltimore, a drone carrying a human organ launched. It landed 2.8 miles away at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The kidney was then successfully transplanted into a patient, saving her life.

GRAPHIC WARNING: The video contains material that some viewers may find disturbing due to the graphic nature.

GRAPHIC: Drone takes donated kidney to hospital

This first voyage of its kind has the potential to revolutionize the organ transplant process.

“This will have a direct impact on improving patient outcomes where time is critical,” said Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean of the medical school.

When performing an organ transplant, figuring out how to get it to the recipient quickly is often the most complicated part. Any delays can destroy the organ’s viability.

“The system is broken and it needs to be fixed. It takes too long, it is unsafe and it is way too expensive,” said Dr. Joseph Scalea, assistant professor of surgery.

The new technology has the potential to make it cheaper, faster and more reliable.

It could also widen the donor organ pool and improve access for people in rural communities.

“Medicine has become silo’d from all these beautiful innovations that are right in front of us. We can implement them to improve system care. It’s time to adapt,” Scalea said.

The University of Maryland is working with three organ procurement organizations across the country to slowly begin implementing drone use.

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