The Viability of Drones as the Future of Medical Devices

Drone technology might be the solution to transport blood supplies to uncharted location during an emergency situation.

Based on the study conducted by John Hopkins, ‘transport drones can safely deliver large bags of red blood cells, blood plasma, or platelets’ (Tantibanchachai, 2017). In addition, the study might help us to unravel the safety of drone transport.

The researchers compared the three packages of blood samples (6 approximately 250 mL leukoreduced apheresis DLT units ACD-A with the temperature of 20-24 degrees Celcius, 6 approximately 350 mL leukoreduced RBC units with Asdol at the temperature of 1-10 degrees Celcius, and 6 approximately 225 mL FP24 with CPD 2. A type K thermocouple attached to a digital temperature logger. These packages flew above the ground level of 100 meters for 22 minutes.

The experiment indicated two siginificant results. Firstly. there is a decline in the temperature of 1.5 – 4 degrees Celcius in three blood packages. Also, there is ‘no significant changes in PLT count, PH, or MPV and changes in the FP24 bubbles’ (Amukele et al., 2016).

The drone that carried the blood supplies during the experiment

‘For rural areas that lack access to nearby clinics, or that may lack the infrastructure for collecting blood products or transporting them on their own, drones can provide that access,’ says Timothy Amukele, an assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Tantibanchachai, 2017).

The use of a drone to transport delicate logistics such as blood supplies is viable. Despite ‘no precedent for packaging blood products for drone transport,’ the method could provide a rapid response during an emergency situation in remote areas.

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Adapted from: HUB of John Hopkins University

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