Home Health The blood and blood products arrive by drone

The blood and blood products arrive by drone

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The blood and blood products arrive by drone

Drones can be a valuable means of emergency transport of blood and blood products. This was demonstrated by a test performed by attaching a sensorized capsule containing blood cells to the aircraft. The experiment demonstrated that the blood material remains intact and would be ready to be transfused.

The Italian project

The Cnr-Ifc, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, Asl Toscana Nord Ovest worked on the project, in collaboration with the spin-off ‘Abzero’ of the same Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. The results are published in ‘Drones’. “Among the various realities that are trying their hand at solving this need, the spin off of the Sant’Anna ABzero High School, incubated at the Navacchio (Pi) Technological Pole, has created an intelligent container designed specifically for this type of transport.

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An ‘intelligent’ container

Specifically, the sensorized capsule, designed to contain blood and blood components, in full compliance with the UN3373 regulations and the 2002/98/EC directives, was developed so as to be able to monitor the conditions of the materials in real time, detecting their temperature, ‘moisture, pH and hemolysis, and activating alert and response procedures when needed,” he explains Angela Pirri of the Cnr Ifac. The actual quality control of the goods involved the creators of the device, Joseph Tortora (ABzero, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) ed Andrea Cannas (ABzero) together with Angela Pirri, Fabrizio Niglio e Paola Committee (ASL Toscana NordOvest), and consisted of a series of laboratory and field tests, which validated the effectiveness of the method.

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Intact samples before and after transport

“The study demonstrated that the development of a capsule equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), transportable with a drone, is able to preserve the thermal conditions of the biological materials transported, in all flight conditions (different altitudes, speeds, accelerations /decelerations), while the chemical tests confirmed the integrity of the samples before and after the drone transport operations”, explains Angela Pirri, Cnr-Ifac. “The overall performance of the system was validated during eight different flight missions, each lasting approximately 13 minutes, and covering a total flight distance of 105 km for a total of 39 flight hours”.

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The advantages of this type of transport

In Italy, the possibility of drastically reducing the costs and delivery times of life-saving goods, such as blood, medicines and organs, between collection centers and processing centers and/or hospitals, could prove to be a strategic choice, especially in those territories where the problem of urban mobility significantly affects delivery times, and consequently the integrity and immediate use of highly perishable goods, but also for reasons of economic efficiency linked to the transport system of these materials.

“For the next step, i.e. transfusing it on patients, the consent of the ethics commission is required” explain the authors. Looking ahead, drones could represent an evolution of the current pneumatic mail inside hospital buildings, as well as an alternative system of delivery of dangerous biological material from hospital wards to laboratories in the event of a health crisis or pandemic.

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