NewsRegionBaltimore City


Baltimore woman receives world's first organ transplant delivered via drone

"An 'Uber' for organs"
Posted at 3:10 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 00:17:43-04

BALTIMORE — The recipient of the first human organ to be delivered by a drone for surgery currently is recuperating at home.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recently gained worldwide attention for the historic drone flight

In an exclusive interview, WMAR-2 News' Mark Roper followed up with the patient to see how she's doing.

Trina Glispy was in a hospital bed being prepped for surgery when she found out she was about to make medical history.

The University of Maryland Medical Center was about to perform the world's first organ transplant delivered by a drone.

"I never heard of a drone delivering organs, ever, and then I was just like…let’s do it,” Glispy said. "To be a part of it, what more can you ask for. All I knew was, they said it was eight minutes away, and I’m like it’s a little quick.”

The Living Legacy Foundation found a kidney for Glispy but its staff didn't have to fight traffic or book a flight to get it to her.

The idea of using a drone to speed up critical delivery times to transport an organ to a waiting patient is the brain child of University of Maryland Medical Center's Dr. Joseph Scalea.

"Scalea, he’s amazing. I don’t think of him as just a doctor, I think of him as an innovator," Glipsy said. "To put that together, and this project was his baby, and for me to be a part of it, hallelujah.”

Glispy is no stranger to the healthcare industry though. She worked as a nurse’s assistant at the Baltimore VA Hospital, which is physically connected to the University of Maryland Medical Center by a walkway. Now, the medical center is emotionally connected to Glispy, who had been waiting since 2011 for a new kidney.

"I feel like I’ve been let down so many times. I didn’t want to notify nobody, and then she was like ‘just go on with your regular day.' Then I got a call that afternoon, took an Uber there. I think that’s where i came up with, 'it’s like an Uber for organs,'” Glispy said.

Kidney failure had taken it’s toll on her ability to work. She had to give up her career at the VA and took a job as a home health aide, but it too hard to fit around her dialysis schedule. She hasn’t been able to work full-time since 2015.

"It’s been a little depressing to tell you the truth, because I want to support my family. Here, me and my daughter, my oldest daughter live together, we split the rent, and I don’t want to put all the weight on her. It’s like now my kids are taking care of me. It used to be I was taking care of my kids,” Glispy said.

Although she’s still recuperating from surgery, her life has changed for the better since the drone delivered her a new kidney.

"Not going to dialysis three times a week, four hours each time, it don’t leave much room to do anything else. Then, the next day trying to recover, if you have energy, you know. It’s like I can go back to work. I can spend time with my children and have the energy to actually do stuff," Glispy said. "So, I’m looking forward to doing a lot of things.”