October 14, 2021

Drone delivers lung in Toronto

Laura McLean

In late September, a lung was delivered by an unmanned drone for transplant to a waiting patient between two hospitals. The patient then successfully received a double lung transplant. The flight from Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital marked what the group involved is describing as the first time a lung has been delivered for transplant via drone anywhere in the world.

The project was a collaboration between Unither Bioélectronique, a Quebec-based biotechnology aviation company and University Health Network. The program demonstrated the ability of an unmanned drone to safely and quickly deliver a donor organ over the congestion of downtown traffic directly to the transplant hospital.

Unither Bioélectronique and the University Health Network describe this as an important proof of concept innovation that has the potential to reduce travel times between donors and recipients and in the process, potentially save lives all over the world. The program also provides a new path of critical organ delivery with a greatly reduced impact on the environment compared to traditional transportation via planes and automobiles.

As described in a Canadian Press article about this drone delivery, which took about six minutes, last year 2,622 Canadians received transplants and 4,129 were on waiting lists.

(Photo: Unither Bioélectronique/Jason van Bruggen)