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South Africa to trial blood deliveries by drone

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is planning to launch a nationwide blood delivery service by drone.

As part of the proof of concept, the SA National Blood Service’s first drone project will connect two semi-rural hospitals in Gauteng which are about 9km apart – Sebokeng and Kopanong Hospitals, using the TRON UAS from Germany’s Quantum-Systems.

”Our concept is globally unique in the history of blood transfusion,” said SANBS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Jonathan Louw. The concept involves setting up a two-ways logistics service with patients received emergency deliveries of O negative blood from SANBS blood banks; the same drone takes the patient’s blood sample back to the laboratory for matching and then delivers compatible blood back to the patient.”]

Press reports say the hospital locations were chosen because of the large number of patients at these sites, and the need to meet CAA safety concerns about flight paths and location. Subject to CAA approval, the drone service could be extended countrywide, including to the Western Cape Blood Service, to connect 184 blood banks and seven processing centres with hospitals and clinics, according to the country’s Defence Web news site.

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