The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, is looking for the possibility of using drones to transport corneas to hospitals for transplantation surgery. Using drones will help in saving precious time that sometimes gets wasted in traffic. Six hours is the ideal time within which the corneas need to be transplanted from the donor.

“It’s just an idea at the moment, as part of the memorandum of understanding that AIIMS and IIT-D have signed for exchange of research and innovation. It’s too early to comment how feasible the idea will be in the long run,” said Dr. JS Titiyal, professor, department of ophthalmology, AIIMS. Corneal transplant surgeries are the most common transplant surgeries in comparison to eye donations which cannot meet the demand at all. Around 26,682 got corneal transplants last year out of 100,000 patients.

Six months was the waiting period for the non-emergency transplant surgery last year, whereas, the National Eye Bank (NEB) of AIIMS could transplant 1,426 the previous year. Also, the eye donations have been improving with the number of surgeries. Moreover, the donations were the highest in the last five years compared to the last 45 years. Adding drones to this equation could greatly increase this number. A drone was earlier used to successfully deliver a kidney. By taking a safe aerial route in transporting delicate payloads such as this, drones could bridge the gap between inter-state/city organ donors and receivers. Not only is organ delivery via drones safe and fast but it is also more economical than manned aircraft.

AIIMS also celebrated the 34th National Eye Donation Fortnight to promote awareness about cornea transplantation.

AIIMS plans to use drones