Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Make your own, home dialysis machine

A baby dying from kidney failure saved when her doctor designed and built her a dialysis machine from scratch in his garage.

That's not a headline you read everyday. Before I opened the link, I was supposing the story came out of Africa, or maybe the Australian Outback. Then I read that it happened in England. ENGLAND. I don't know much about the NHS, but I can't fathom a baby going into kidney failure and the family being told, "So sorry, but she's going to die."

I do know that hemodialysis is hard on the hemodynamics of a 6 pound baby. We had a baby born with kidney failure in the PICU, so he was started on peritoneal dialysis, which is also no picnic on a 6 pounder-their BP can still drop after they drain and although the machine can be reprogramed, it still alarms 80 times a shift because the dwell volumes are so low.

Anyway, back to the BBC. So this doc makes a hemodialysis machine, I suppose out of stuff he had lying around the garage. Goodness knows what I could make from the crap in my basement. A heart-lung machine, probably. How they got the hospital to use it is another wonder-I can't even use a different brand thermometer without a committee vote and a bioengineering seal of approval. And now the baby is a toddler and looking amazingly cute. Dr. McGuyver strikes again.

(Hmmm, when I think about it, the baby probably couldn't have PD because she had already had bowel surgery, so I guess HD was the only option.)

BTW, for all you facebook folks, (you know who you are), I'm on it, but I only visit once in a while, so I'm sorry if I don't return your flowers and zombie hugs and whatnot, but I barely have enough time these days to check my emails and put out the occassional post. So, you can keep sending me quizzes "What are your favorite felonies?" "What smell are you?" but it's unlikely that I'll answer.


Baby J said...

Wilhelm Kolff (sp) the chap who designed the first kidney machine produced a design, involving an empty tin of pineapple chunks and a Maybach(?) washing machine, to enable patients to build their own dialysis machine. Maybach objected - they were worried about consumer liability.

Wilhelm Kolf was also involved in the design of the heart-lung machine and artificial hearts. His achievement in producing an artificial kidney in the Occupied Netherlands during WW2 was truely amazing.

Mother Jones RN said...

I hope our HMO's don't read this story. I can just see them now trying to make more money by sending dialysis machines to patients with a little note: Assembly required.


asthepumpturns said...

Hmmm....he made it in his garage? Fresenius will not like this...

TC said...

Well, I may have used some artistic license when I said he made it in his garage. None the less, he did whip it up and just look at that baby-healthy as could be.

Meanwhile, I've been talking about this at work, and no one seems particularly impressed. It's like my friend Ali, who threw together a CPAP with some spare parts, except she's on a ship in Africa. Not in the UK.

Anonymous said...

hey can you help me, i am trying to build a dialysis machine for a exhibition can u help me mate