Drones won’t effect blood product say Johns Hopkins University study

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that large bags of blood products can maintain temperature and cellular integrity while transported by drones (Scienmag, 2016).

The findings, published in Transfusion in November, adds to the evidence that drones are a safe, effective and timely way to quickly transport blood products to remote accident or natural disaster sites and other time-sensitive destinations. They can also used in urban areas to improve the distribution of blood products and the quality of care. Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of the paper’s authors, said “For rural areas that lack access to nearby clinics, or that may lack the infrastructure for collecting blood products or transporting them on their own, drones can provide that access.”

The Johns Hopkins team had previously studied the impact of drone transportation on the chemical, haematological and microbial makeup of blood samples and found they weren’t negatively effected. The new study examined the effects of drone transportation on larger amounts of blood products used for transfusion, which have significantly more complex handling, transport and storage requirements than blood samples intended for laboratory testing.

The team purchased six units of red blood cells, six units of platelets and six units of unthawed plasma from the American Red Cross, and packed the units into a five quart cooler two to three units at a time, due to the drone’s weight restrictions. The cooler was then attached to the camera mount of a S900-model drone.

For each test, the drone was flown approximately thirteen to twenty kilometres at an altitude of a hundred metres. The flights took up to 26.5 minutes. The team designed the test to maintain temperature for the red blood cells, platelets and plasma units. They used wet ice, pre-calibrated thermal packs and dry ice respectively. Temperature monitoring was constant in line with with the transport and storage requirements for blood components. The team conducted the tests in an unpopulated area with a certified drone pilot.

Following the flights, all samples were transported to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Timothy Amukele’s team checked the red blood cells for damage. They checked the platelets for changes in pH as well as the number of platelets. The plasma units were checked for evidence of air bubbles, which would indicate thawing.

The team plans further larger studies in the US and other countries, and hopes to test methods of active cooling, for example programming a cooler to maintain a specific temperature.

Timothy Amukele said “My vision is that in the future, when a first responder arrives to the scene of an accident, he or she can test the victim’s blood type right on the spot and send for a drone to bring the correct blood product.”

Free WordPress Themes, Free Android Games