Maryland test confirms drones can safely deliver human organs


C6128F35-F032-4E68-99C8-CF652AC2808EDrone with organ delivery box.

Researchers from the University of Maryland attach a cooler containing a kidney to a DJI M600 Pro drone in preparation for a test flight.

When a patient who needs an organ transplantation is finally matched with a donor, every second matters. A longer wait between when an organ is removed from a donor and when it is placed into a recipient is associated with poorer organ function following transplantation. To maximize the chances of success, organs must be shipped from A to B as quickly and as safely as possible—and a recent test run suggests that drones are up to the task.

One transplant surgeon’s personal experience at the operating table, waiting for organs to arrive, prompted him to think of new forms of delivery. “I frequently encounter situations where there’s simply no way to get an organ to me fast enough to do a transplant, and then those life-saving organs do not get transplanted into my patient,” says Dr. Joseph Scalea of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “And that’s frustrating, so I wanted to develop a better system for doing that.”

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The high-stakes race to create the world’s first artificial heart


World-famous Houston surgeon Bud Frazier spent decades developing a revolutionary device that could save millions of lives. In this exclusive excerpt from ‘Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart,’ he attempts to implant it in a human for the first

The kids fell in love with him first. Back in the late eighties, Craig Lewis lived three houses down from Linda Sanders. He was a quiet, solitary beanpole of a man with a copper-colored golden retriever named Shogun. He looked to be in his late thirties, and Linda knew from neighborhood gossip that he had one marriage behind him, just like she did. Back then, Shogun seemed to be his constant companion. Craig had taught that dog to do just about anything; of course he could sit, stay, and fetch, but he also knew how to play hide-and-seek with even the canniest kid. That was why, as soon as Linda’s children saw Craig’s pickup pull into his driveway in the early evenings, they were out the door. Leslie was six and Eddie four, two blond-haired kids on the run, raising small clouds of dust as their feet slapped the parched summer grass. “Don’t wear out your welcome!” Linda warned to the sliding door they slammed behind them.

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Surgeons transplant ‘dead’ hearts into patients for the first time ever

heart pump

A specialized fluid and pump has been developed that provide the heart with oxygen, reducing damage and preserving the tissue.

Two Australian patients have had hearts successfully transplanted that had been dead for over 20 minutes thanks to a new method of preservation. The ability to save hearts that have stopped beating will drastically widen the amount of organs available, possibly suiting the needs of 30% of those on the transplant wait list. The research was a joint effort between Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Hospital, with Professor Bob Graham leading the team.


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Four women with transplanted wombs are trying to get pregnant with IVF

pregnant woman

Doctors successfully transplanted wombs into nine women.

Four women who underwent womb transplants have received embryos in an attempt to get pregnant, according to Swedish doctors. The women are the recipients of wombs from their mothers or other relatives, as part of an experiment to see whether a womb transplant can yield a successful pregnancy. The embryos are the result of in vitro fertilization before the women had their transplants.



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The Methuselah Foundation offers $1 million prize for a bioengineered liver

If man-made organs were available, nobody would have to wait, or die waiting.

It might be hard to tally how much is a liver worth for someone on a waiting list for a transplant. But one nonprofit is now saying it’s willing to pay $1 million for a bioengineered liver.



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Scientists trying to build human hearts for organ transplants


There has already been success by researchers in growing tracheas, bladders, and body parts like noses on scaffolds using stem cells. Why not try to develop something more complex, like a heart or lungs? Dr. Harald Ott is a surgeon and researcher at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital who has been working on this very question.



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Italian neuroscientist believes human head transplant surgery is possible

Researcher thinks human head transplant surgery is finally possible.

A neuroscientist in Italy believes he’s figured out how to do a full human head transplant. Or body transplant, depending on your perspective. Dr. Sergio Canavero of the University of Turin explains in a recent paper how the procedure would work, describing how a “clean cut” with an “ultra-sharp blade” could leave the two severed spinal cords in the condition to be re-attached. “It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage,” writes the researcher.



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Researchers clone human embryonic stem cells

Creating stem cells from skin.

Researchers have converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells using the same process involved in cloning, which have the capability to turn into any type of cell in the body. Stem cell researchers have reached a long-sought milestone in “regenerative” medicine that seeks to provide rejection-free replacement transplant tissues to patients.



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Scientists grow human organs in a lab



Francisco Fernandez-Aviles reached into a stainless steel tray and lifted up a gray, rubbery mass the size of a fat fist. It was a human cadaver heart that had been bathed in industrial detergents until its original cells had been washed away and all that was left was what scientists call the scaffold.



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Genetically modified pigs could provide human organs by 2013


GM pigs could provide human organs for transplant.

There is a persistent shortage of human organs and this has led experts to investigate methods of using pigs created with human genes, so that body parts grown in them can be harvested for use in patients without their immune systems rejecting them.  Organs grown in genetically modified pigs could be transplanted into humans in as little as two years’ time, scientists believe.


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