Intermountain unveils $7M high-speed jet to retrieve organs for transplants

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare on Monday unveiled a retrofitted $7 million high-speed jet, which is devoted entirely to organ retrieval and similar trips to and from Utah, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The new jet, a Cessna Citation CJ4, can travel more than 500 mph, reach heights of 45,000 feet and fly 2,100 miles without a fuel stop. The new jet outpaces the aircrafts in Intermountain's current air ambulance fleet, which can only reach speeds of 310 mph, climb 35,000 feet and travel 1,200 miles without stopping for fuel.

The jet has been in use for emergency situations for nearly a year, clocking 81 trips so far; however, it has now been renovated with equipment necessary for transporting organs.

"It's forward-thinking to make investments like this in a market where there is incredible competition to save everyone's life," said Richard Gilroy, MD,  medical director of the liver transplant program at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

The investment in the jet is part of a partnership between Intermountain Life Flight air ambulance service and Intermountain Donor Services, a nonprofit agency that coordinates organ transfers for the health system.

Intermountain Donor Services previously partnered with a private jet company; however, the company did not always have jets available for use, according to the report. This caused stalls in the organ retrieval process, which placed more lives at risk. 

Other Utah hospitals, including Salt Lake City-based University Hospital, will have access to the jet, which may on occasion be deployed to transport patients in need of emergency care.

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