Monday, December 04, 2017

Drones instead of ‘green corridor’?

In what could potentially provide a major fillip to the organ transplant programme in the state, Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS), in collaboration with Canadian scientists, is planning to use drones to transport organs from brain dead patients to recipients in hospitals. "Drones to transport harvested organs have been developed in Canada by a Kottayam-based Malayali scientist. After successfully testing it in Canada, they have now approached us. It will be a collaboration between a Canadian university and KNOS. To check out feasibility in our terrain they will soon start trial runs," KNOS nodal officer Dr Noble Gracious told TOI.
Organs have a short shelf life — kidneys last the longest, 24 hours; a healthy liver for 12-15 hours, while the heart not more than 10 hours — which makes drones a faster and comparatively cheaper option.
At present, most organs are transported using the traditional 'green corridor'. In rare cases, air ambulance is used.
A drone with a box containing the harvested organ may cost around Rs 1 to Rs 2 lakh, whereas cost of transportation by road in a private vehicle comes to about Rs 5 to Rs 7 lakh; an air ambulance using a Navy aircraft is about Rs 10 lakh while chartering a private aircraft could set the organ recipient's family back by as much as Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
While the idea seems perfect in theory, there is considerable scepticism about the implementation part, even about its desirability at this stage. "This is a futuristic thought and can be helpful when there is surplus organs. But at the moment, we don't have enough cadaver donors amidst allegations of lack of transparency in organ transplant. This has led to a great downfall in the organ donation program in the state," cardio vascular and thoracic surgeon Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram."None of the organ transplants in the state have failed due to delay in transportation of the harvested organs," Kottayam Medical College's cardio thoracic and vascular surgeon Dr Ratish R pointed out.
04/12/17 Preetu Nair/Times of India