MissionGO, in conjunction with The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland (the state’s organ procurement organization responsible for organ, eye and tissue donation services), has successfully demonstrated the transportation of blood via fully autonomous unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Showing an approximately 292 percent time improvement over ground transportation, the flight was the first to demonstrate rapid UAS blood transport for fast-track lab testing, matching and transplantation of life-saving organs.
Blood testing and travel time are integral parts of the organ donation and transplantation process, but with so many imminent variables that could threaten the viability of specimens, transporting blood in a safe, timely and effective manner is critical. Currently, The LLF send blood specimens to a minimum of three different labs by ground courier that are most frequently across a 7.1-mile distance, which takes about 38 minutes for just one shipment. This process is also subject to heavy traffic, unexpected accidents and many other unpredictable road-related factors. Once received, The LLF, donor hospitals and partner laboratories within 150 to 250 miles must create extremely efficient, logistical solutions to rapidly and rigorously test the specimen to ensure there are no communicable diseases present, identify a match and provide transport to the transplant hospital for the surgical procedure.
MissionGO recognized that a better method was needed and, with technology partners MediGO and AlarisPro, designed the MissionGO MG Velos 100, a fully integrated solution that could track, deliver and monitor the entire logistics process. The LLF and MissionGO then developed a study comparing the speed and reliability of delivering blood specimens via ground transport versus unmanned aircraft. At one of MissionGO’s Maryland test sites, the UAS flew a circuit route over a 5.3- mile distance representing the direct line flight path for the blood delivery. Traveling at approximately 50 miles per hour over a 60-minute period, the UAS completed four total blood delivery shipments, demonstrating that a better method is possible. Throughout the process, MediGO provided critical logistical information to all shipment stakeholders, including a chat channel for ongoing communication between the flight team to monitor each step of the specimen’s journey.
Using the MissionGO MG Velos 100, OPOs, hospitals and laboratories will be equipped with an autonomous delivery system, which can airlift specimens over all traffic and geographical limitations for an expedient delivery that is fast, safe and effective. Working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to advance the MG Velos 100 through the certification process, MissionGO will be uniquely positioned to offer transplant stakeholders the only UAS capable of routine medical cargo delivery in urban environments. Combined with the complete visibility and transparency offered by MediGO and fleet and maintenance management from AlarisPro, every detail of a multi-modal organ and blood shipment is covered so that doctors and clinicians no longer have to worry about the logistics and can instead focus on their mission of saving lives.
Charlie Alexander, president and CEO of The LLF, commented: “About 20 lives are lost every day waiting for an organ transplant. As the demand of blood shipment to laboratories increases, it is imperative more than ever that we support and facilitate these types of initiatives in order to decrease the total turnaround time for donor matching results and get recipients the organs they need in time. We are passionate about saving and enhancing lives through donation, while honoring the legacy and generosity of our donors and their families. Continuing to make these medical advancements furthers our mission to save more lives, and we look forward to finding more innovative ways to help those in need.”
Frank Paskiewicz, executive vice president of UAS Cargo Operations at MissionGO, said: “When it comes to donation, specimen testing and transplantation, every second counts, and we found there was a lot of room for improvements within the current process,” said . “For donation to be possible, labs must receive blood as quickly as possible so it can be matched with a waiting recipient, and we’re thrilled that the results of this flight and fully integrated UAS cargo delivery solution will help accelerate the donation process, and potentially, save more lives than ever before.”
Joseph Scalea, chief medical officer and co-founder of MediGO, added: “We’re grateful to have the opportunity to partner with The LLF, a forward-leaning, technology-focused OPO that is leading the transplant community into the future. Now, all stakeholders can have eyes on the shipment through its entire journey to final delivery. The confidence and efficiency this brings to medical teams is a gamechanger for the industry and with our partners at MissionGO, the future of transplant logistics is here.”