Wearable Artificial Kidney

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The man on the left is Victor Gura, one of the authors on a 2007 Lancet paper demonstrating the efficacy of the wearable artificial kidney (WAK).

The machine (which can perhaps be likened to deluxe version of Batman’s tool belt) weighs about 10 pounds, and apparently another prototype weighing about half as much is currently in development. The idea, of course, is that ESRD individuals wouldn’t have to come in three times a week to dialysis centers, they could merely walk around with their artificial kidney.

The 2007 Lancet paper describes 8 patients with ESRD who used the device for a period of 4-8 hours. Unfractionated heparin was used for anticoagulation and both blood flows (about 60 cc/min) and dialysate flows (about 50 cc/min) were significantly less than in standard dialysis. The urea clearance rate was nearly 25 cc/min which I suppose is not bad. One of the main issues with any form of portable dialysis obviously would be keeping the fistula needle intact and avoiding any serious bleeding complications; the WAK apparently has safety mechanisms to minimize the bleeding risks in such situations.

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