Why is this woman smiling? She is wearing a prototype of a kidney dialysis machine that is wearable. For most patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), treatment requires frequent visits to a dialysis clinic where large machines process their blood to remove the wastes, salts, and extra water that normally are handle by healthy kidneys. Treatment sessions can last about four hours. Patients can arrange for treatment when traveling, within the U.S. and out of the country, but this typically requires advanced planning and reservations.
For many reasons, a portable dialysis system could have a major impact on the quality of life for ESRD patients. Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first trial in the U.S. for a “Wearable Artificial Kidney.” The device is being developed by Blood Purification Technologies. The 10-pound system is battery powered, and the company has been raising money to fund the trials which are scheduled to start soon In Seattle, Washington. The company created a non-profit charitable organization, the Wearable Artificial Kidney Foundation, as a clearinghouse for donations.
If the trials are successful, this technology could be available in a few years.