Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wearable Kidney

This dude was an author of a 2007 Lancet paper describing the invention of the WAK (Wearable Artificial Kidney). The idea, of course, is that individuals with end-stage kidney disease would be able to walk around with this portable blood filtering device rather than having to go into a dialysis unit three times a week for 3-4 hours a session, thus giving their lives more freedom.

The belt (which I think can be likened to one of Batman's utility belts, don't you think?) weighs about 10 pounds. The study in 2007 described 7 patients who used the machine for a total of 4-8 hours and experienced no major complications. One of the main issues with any such machine is that the needles inserted into the wearer's veins could conceivably become dislodged and lead to serious bleeding complications; apparently the device does come equipped with some safety mechanisms to ensure that this does not occur.

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