Drones To Be Used To Fly Blood Samples To Remote Medical Centers
Drones are making milestones as far as efficiency is concerned. In June we featured a story where drones can be helpful in curbing exam cheating in Kenya and other countries. The use of drones has been adopted by many countries to reduce poaching which is great.
In the health sector drones can be used to deliver medicine in different parts of the country and blood samples. Drones filled with blood will soon become a reality in transporting blood samples to rural areas that have poor roads or affected by natural disasters like floods. A new proof-of-concept study between John Hopkins Hospital and Uganda’s Makerere University announced this week in a paper published in PLOS ONE.
A study led by John Hopkins pathologist, Dr. Timothy Amukele and engineers wanted to test the effects of this unusual transportation method on blood that needs to be screened. Currently drones are being used to transport parcel by leading logistical companies like DHL around the world and they have reduced the work force. Drones are now built to sustain impact from bumping into other objects while airborne and upon delivery. “Such movements could have destroyed blood cells or prompted blood to coagulate, and I thought all kinds of blood tests might be affected, but our study shows they weren’t, so that was cool,” Amukele said.
Many people are supporting the study. 56 volunteers donated six samples of blood each, which were then split into two different groups. Half of the blood samples were controls, and the rest were packaged for the test drone flights, flying by drone for between six and 38 minutes to see if time in transit could be a factor in quality. After their brief stint in the air, the samples were unloaded and taken back to the hospital for an array of common tests, the results of which were compared with the samples that hadn’t been flown. Reports iflscience.
Researchers believe this is the only means of transport that is efficient to transport medicine and blood samples to testing centers that are in the rural areas or towns that are affected by natural disasters. Drones can give health care workers quick access to lab tests needed for diagnoses and treatments. Most tests on blood samples and other fluids are done by dedicated laboratories that can be scores of miles from remote clinics.
“A drone could go 100 kilometers in 40 minutes,” says Amukele. “They’re less expensive than motorcycles and are not subject to traffic delays, and the technology already exists for the drone to be programmed to ‘home’ to certain GPS coordinates, like a carrier pigeon.”