Scientists from John Hopkins College of Medicine in the United States have determined that blood products do not get damaged and can still be transfused when transported by drones. This research study, that is relevant even in India where many districts do not have enough blood banks and where people often die wanting transfusion, was published in the journal Transfusion.

Researchers transferred six units of red blood cells, six units of platelets and six units of unthawed plasma and packed it in a transport drone. This drone was then attached to a commercial S900-model drone, which can carry a camera mount. The researchers replaced that with the cooler full of blood products. The drone was flown by remote control for a distance of approximately 13 kms to 20 kms while 100 metres above ground for about 26.5 minutes.

In a press release, the team said that this is possibly the “first proof-of-concept” study of its kind where it has been determined that large bags of blood product can maintain temperature and cellular integrity while transported by drones.

The researchers had previously studied the impact of drone transportation on the chemical, hematological and microbial makeup of the blood samples and had found that they were not negatively affected, the press release said. That study was published in August this year in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

The new study breaks barriers in examining the effect of drone transportation on larger amounts of blood products, which have significantly more complex handling, transport, and storage requirements than the samples used for the earlier study.The team plans further and larger studies on the whether the drones can be used to transport blood products in the US and other countries, said the release.