Nitin Gadkari shows off a prototype of India’s drone technology for organ transport

Road Transport and Highways Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday unveiled India’s first prototype for drone transport of human organs to facilitate rapid organ transplants in hospitals.

Using drones to transport harvested organs from the airport to the hospital will significantly reduce the time compared to the current way of transporting organs from the airport by road.

“Currently, drones can be used to move boxes containing organs to distances of up to 20 kilometers,” said Dr. Prashanth Rajagopalan, director of MGM Healthcare, which co-created the prototype drone technology.

Rajagopalan told reporters that his hospital had formed a partnership with a city-based drone company to transfer organs. It aims to revolutionize the last mile transport of organs, he said.

“Understanding the importance of fast and seamless transport of organs, we will soon need to innovate in the logistics of organ transport. One of the popular proposals is the use of drones,” said Gadkari.

“It’s a very innovative way to solve transportation problems, and I appreciate MGM Healthcare’s involvement in research and development,” he said after the unveiling of the prototype, almost from New Delhi.

Gadkari noted that the logistical issues of organ shipments could be solved with better land and air connections, and said his ministry had taken steps to improve infrastructure. Road infrastructure projects such as Bharatmala Pariyojana, a new master plan for the road sector, will be a key asset for transport agencies across India.

“We are launching a highway project from Delhi to Dehradun which will reduce travel time…I am very cautious and sensitive about the transport of organs and how to help you in this regard,” the minister said.

He said transit times would be shorter and the highway would be a greenfield route and operate with a closed gate system. Development work, including land acquisition and other activities, is underway, he added.
He claimed that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the centre understood the importance of creating infrastructure not only to facilitate business and trade, but also to save lives and improve healthcare.

Congratulations to Dr. KR Balakrishnan, Chairman of Cardiac Sciences and Director of the Heart-Lung Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Institute, MGM Healthcare; Gadkari and his team have performed more than 500 successful heart and lung transplants in India and performed the largest adult population in India and the Children’s Heart Transplant Project, Gadkari said achieving this milestone puts India at the top of the global map.

“This achievement is not only a source of pride, but also gratifying for us as we are creating a benchmark in healthcare,” he said.

By the way, according to the hospital, the record-breaking 500-plus heart and lung transplants are the highest number ever performed by a team in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

“I was told that some doctors, especially Balakrishnan, moved to India from abroad with a mission and passion to create the best possible transplant program. This is truly a special commitment to serve the country,” the federal minister praised the sacrifices of hospital team members .

He congratulated the team on their success and urged them to expand their horizons and not stop at breaking the 500 mark. “Achieving the next milestone of progress through talent and improved healthcare infrastructure in villages and small towns helps the masses gain access to world-class health insurance,” he urged.

State Health Minister Ma Subramanian praised the prototype and said it would pave the way for more lives to be saved. He pledged to provide all support to make it operational as soon as possible.

“Chennai and MGM Healthcare are front-runners in organ transplant programs, on par with the best medical institutions in the world today,” he said.

As far as the government is concerned, it allows organ harvesting at all National Medical College hospitals and district headquarters hospitals. “Soon, these hospitals will start transplants,” Subramanian said.

Dr Balakrishnan said despite the lockdown and COVID-19, 514 heart and lung transplants, including more than 200 transplants, were successfully completed in the past two years.

“This was made possible thanks to the tremendous support and expertise of the team, government agencies and transport teams,” he said.

MGM Healthcare’s infrastructure and support have also helped him treat more than 350 ECMO patients — the highest in the country. He said the team had also carried out more than 100 paediatric transplants and more than 4,600 intervention cases for free with Aishwarya Trust Care for Little Hearts and completed more than 220 cases under the plan of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Operation.

Dr. Suresh Rao, co-director of MGM Healthcare’s Heart-Lung Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Institute, which tracks the hospital’s transplant journey, said that thanks to Dr. Balakrishnan and the team’s expertise in the field and the mechanical circulatory support program.

Heart failure is an underappreciated problem in India, said Dr. Ravikumar R, Senior Consultant and Associate Clinical Director of the Cardiology and Heart Failure Program at MGM Healthcare. The quality of life and longevity of patients with end-stage heart failure who do not respond to conventional treatments can be improved with advanced procedures such as heart transplants and left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), he said.

Dr Prashanth Rajagopalan said that with the outstanding achievements of more than 500 transplant operations, the hospital is further committed to making India a global medical hub by investing in the latest technology and the best clinical talent to achieve better clinical outcomes

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