Drones will soon be used to transport blood to remote rural areas in South Africa, the SA National Blood Service Picture:File

Drones will soon be used to transport  blood to remote rural areas in South Africa, the SA National Blood Service (SANBS) said on Friday - a day after demonstrating how the technology will assist to save lives.

On Thursday the SANBS and Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) came together at the North Eastern Radio Flyers in Sandton, where they showcased how they intend to save more lives using drones.

Named the TRON Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) this drone is a highly specialised aircraft that will be used to transport blood from blood banks to hospitals in remote areas. The TRON, like a helicopter, is capable of vertically taking off and landing. 

Once in flight it switches into a highly efficient aircraft. 

In an emergency blood can be delivered to hospitals much faster and more efficiently than ever before. TRON can carry up to 2 kg and cool it actively. The TRON will fly at an altitude of 100 m to hospitals as far away as 100 km delivering up to four units of life saving blood.

Saying it is a first for South Africa, the SANBS - a non profit organisation, said the TRON aerial vehicle will complement the existing logistics infrastructure.  

“We believe that this is an innovative step in the history of blood transfusion. SANBS is determined to improve rapid access to life-saving blood products in rural areas through the use of drone technology," said Dr. Jonathan Louw, CEO of the SANBS.

"Our concept is globally unique in that we will provide two-way logistics; patients can receive emergency 'O negative' blood from one of our blood banks via drone. 

"The same drone can then take that patient’s blood sample to the blood bank for comprehensive cross-matching and then safely and rapidly deliver compatible blood back to the patient” 

Commenting on the development, WCBS said the initiative was commendable and would indeed be instrumental in saving lives. 

“We celebrate a milestone. Our main aim as a blood service in the Western Cape is to save people’s lives by providing sufficient, safe blood. Drones will assist us to provide blood timeously to where it is needed,” said Dr Greg Bellairs, WCBS CEO/Medical Director.

 - African News Agency (ANA)