Artificial Kidney That Is Worn Like a Belt May Improve Lives of People with Kidney Failure

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A belt that performs ‘dialysis on the go’ could soon change the lives of people with chronic kidney failure. The Wak device – which stands for Wearable Artificial Kidney – aims to replace dialysis machines, which require patients to visit a clinic several times a week.

Dialysis treatment can also cause people to develop a dangerous build-up of fluids and minerals, creating a range of health problems. “I was very frustrated – I still am – because for decades, we’ve been doing dialysis with big machines that prolong the life of the patient a little bit,” Victor Gura, who created the device told CNN.

Gura, who is an associate clinical medical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, believed there was a better way.

The idea behind Wak is to filter a patient’s blood continuously, removing some of the complications associated with dialysis. The device is a 4.5kg miniature dialysis machine that a patient can wear around their body. It looks rather bulky at the moment, but the researchers believe they can get the weight down to just 2.3kg, as well as reduce its size.

It connects to a large vein in the body through catheter which has filters to separate water, salts and minerals out of the blood.

The filters have to be replaced once a week, and chemicals added once a day to clean the water filtered out. The entire device runs 9-volt batteries.

The researchers presented the results of a trial of the device this week at Kidney Week, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology.

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