TOSA, LifeGift, and LifeShare Conduct First-Time Uncrewed Aerial Transport of Organs and Blood Between Lubbock, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio

Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) the non-profit serving 56 counties in Central and South Texas, LifeGift in Houston, Texas, and LifeShare in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, have joined forces with the Matador Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) Consortium, co-developed by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) and 2THEDGE, LLC., to conduct uncrewed aerial transport (UAS) testing the ability to successfully move organs and blood between Lubbock, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio. The test took place on Tuesday, November 15th, with the UAS flight originating at Lubbock’s Texas Tech University Reese Technology Center proceeding a distance of 350 miles to Oklahoma City and then traveling 471 miles to San Antonio.

This is the first time that donated organs were transported this far a distance by an aerial system that was operated using robotic technology. The Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) transported a donated human liver, kidney, and pancreas between the three cities. Although there was a pilot on board per FAA regulations, the plane was flown entirely by technology onboard. The organs were donated for clinical research and were not transplanted following the flight demonstration.

The three organ procurement organizations’ proposed use of this ground-breaking UAS technology aims to improve transport of donated organs and tissues in rural areas to better serve patients.

TOSA, LifeGift, and LifeShare’s shared objectives include:

  • Address transportation challenges in the facilitation of organs for transplant and minimize the time between organ recovery and transplantation
  • Test the efficacy of transporting organs and biological materials via Uncrewed Aerial Transport (UAS) technology from hospitals in rural areas to transplant programs
  • Increase efficiency of the logistics involved in the testing of blood and biological material to allocate organs and the recovery of donated organs
  • Continue to drive innovation and technology to better serve all patients, especially those located in rural areas

“Uncrewed Aerial System transportation is a technological breakthrough that could improve organ recovery, allocation, and transportation to ensure patients, especially in rural areas of South Texas, receive the precious Gift of Life,” said Joseph Nespral, President and CEO of Texas Organ Sharing Alliance. “Our partnership with LifeGift, LifeShare, and the Matador UAS Consortium aligns with our mission and core values to use research and innovation to drive performance improvements in the donation system and save more lives through organ transplantation.”