Drones could deliver blood to hospitals

PALO ALTO, CA (KGO/CNN) – A California city could be the first in the U.S. to use drones to deliver blood. Drones are already being used in Switzerland to deliver blood from one medical facility to another. The company behind it is Matternet located in Menlo Park, CA. The company’s video shows how blood or medical samples can be put into a box, and with a push of a button, flown autonomously by a drone.

Stanford Blood Center is interested in the technology. “We’ll use a drone to deliver blood from Stanford Blood Center about 3.5 miles to Stanford Hospital down the road,” said Tho Pham, the medical director for the Stanford Blood Center. It can take 30 minutes to one hour to transport blood from the Blood Center to Stanford Hospital. Using a drone to deliver, would take 10 minutes.

The delivery would be dropped at a receiving station that would be located in a hospital parking lot or area convenient for medical staff to access. “With a system like this, you’re able to save tremendous amount of time and generally reduce waste throughout the hospital system,” said Matternet’s CEO Andreas Rappopoulous.

Palo Alto’s city manager said they’ve submitted their application and are excited the pilot program could potentially happen in what is considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

“We saw it as a really opportune moment for us to be in potentially on the front end of developing policies that could affect cities in the future,” said city manager James Keene.

If approved, doctors said the drones would be used to fly blood in emergencies, where time is critical, and they don’t have enough staff to transport supplies quickly.

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