MissionGO, Nevada Donor Network use UAS to deliver human organ and tissue

On Sept. 17, UAS solutions provider MissionGO and organ procurement organization (OPO) Nevada Donor Network completed two successful test flights carrying a human organ and tissue via UAS.

During the first flight, research corneas were transported from Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center to Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican, San Martín Campus. The flight successfully demonstrated the viability, value, efficiency gains, and delivery speed of UAS when used to deliver lifesaving medical supplies and organs within an urban environment.

During the second flight, a research kidney was delivered from an airport to a location outside of a small town in the Las Vegas desert, marking the longest organ delivery flight in UAS history. The flight surpassed the distance of an April 2019 flight when MissionGO team members Anthony Pucciarella and Ryan Henderson, in their roles at the University of Maryland UAS Test Site and in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center, delivered the first kidney by UAS that was then successfully transplanted into a patient.

“These flights are an exciting step forward – 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 that MissionGO’s UAS are safe for both the payload and people on the ground – even at greater distances,” says Anthony Pucciarella, MissionGO President.

“We are grateful to be testing our technology with our partners at the Nevada Donor Network and look forward to what we can achieve together with more research like this.”

Due to limited transplant programs available locally, the majority of organs donated in Las Vegas must currently be shipped to recipients in other states. The second flight test showcased an exciting possibility for the future of organ transportation specifically within the Las Vegas region.

The entities say that using UAS in multimodal transportation chain offers a variety of benefits, including a reduction in the time between organ donation and transplantation, a reduction in the carbon footprint by using electric aircraft, and the potential to expand organ procurement efficiency, which saves more lives. The Nevada aviation research is the beginning of a series of medical and aviation research flights with OPOs in other regions.

“The success of last week’s tests launches us into the future of organ transportation and will enable us to be even more successful in the coming years,” says Joe Ferreira, CEO and president of Nevada Donor Network.

“The work we’re doing now to maximize the gift of life and health can only be amplified with the services that MissionGO demonstrated. The future of organ donation and transplantation will be defined by innovation.”

MissionGO has additional flight tests planned for later this year and throughout 2021 with additional OPO innovation partners across the country.