When we imagine the future, we always think about flying cars, teleportation and the ability to control certain phenomena like the weather. Probably just a handful of us actually thinks about the future of health-related technology.
Advances such as being able to move a prosthetic hand like it was actually a part of the body, or correcting eye problems such as color blindness, are some examples that could improve the lives of thousands of individuals worldwide.
There is in particular one advance that millions of people around the world are waiting for eagerly, and this is the development of a wearable kidney. Here, Joe Cosgrove will talk about the future of this brilliant device.
What is a wearable kidney?
In brief, a wearable kidney is a device created to work as an actual kidney. This device is connected to the patient’s body and blood torrent. This way, it is able to clean all waste products that flow around the body and also eliminated the extra liquids and salt present in it. Needless to say that such device is meant to be used by those who need it.
Patients who have acute kidney injury or End Stage Renal Disease are the perfect candidates to wear this type of artificial kidney. They have been treated with dialysis and their cases are so severe that they usually need to have a kidney transplant.
Instead of transplanting a kidney or needing to go eternally under dialysis. Doctors and healthcare providers have come with the solution of developing an artificial kidney. This device promises to solve all waste filtering issues while giving patients a better life quality.
The word of doctors
Many doctors in the world seem to be happy to announce that advances are taking place and that in the near future we will be able to find tested and ready- to – use wearable kidneys in the market.
In New York, there are different hospitals such as the Lenox Hill Hospital that have been working hard to give patients a second chance to live a fulfilling life, like they had their two kidneys in perfect shape. Doctors here suggest that the development of a wearable kidney stopped being just a dream and is starting to become a reachable reality.
Doctors consider this option as a way to “change the game” for patients who depend on dialysis to survive. It will bring hope and a renewed strength to End Stage Renal Disease patients and their families. Taking care of patients could become easier and problems related to hemodialysis would disappear.
How would it improve patients’ lives?
Nowadays, patients who have kidney problems need to go to dialysis units so healthcare providers can help them filtering the waste in their blood. This process is rather exhausting and has numerous side effects. People with kidney problems need to have a special diet and habits that allow them to stay as healthy as they can -given the circumstances.
By using a wearable kidney, a patient could start living a better life. Their diet wouldn’t be that restricted, they would have more time to do the things that the like or need (instead of spending more than 10 hours per week in the dialysis unit). They would also move and break dependence with their dialysis routine.
Besides that, no special machine would be needed but the wearable kidney and blood would be filtered just as it was going through the kidneys. Also, the excess of water and salt in the body would be easily removed.
Has it been tested?
Luckily the answer to this question is “yes, it has”. During the past years, different trials have been made with several hospitals worldwide and the results are bringing hope to patients with kidney problems. This means that we are really close to making some dreams come true.
A small and portable device has been tested in several patients in hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California. There, these patients were asked to spend a day connected to the wearable kidney as they did all the things that they wanted to do.
After living a usual day, the seven tested patients stated that for the first time in years they had been able to live a “usual day”. Plus, the device seemed to work beautifully in them, since their blood was purified and waste substances such as creatinine, urea, and phosphorus were successfully removed out of the blood torrent.
Therapy seemed to be tolerable to these patients. There were no side effects, no impact on blood circulation and no adverse effects. In fact, patients were also able to eat whatever they wanted to eat for the first time since they had been getting kidney treatment. This didn’t affect the results either.
Nonetheless, more tests need to take place before launching this device to the market. Also, some technical details need to be taken care of, and a redesign would be ideal for this miracle device. All these aspects are being currently solved and for the first time in the world history, patients with kidney problems are going to stop dreaming and start living the life they deserve.
*Featured Photo by Larry Pribyl, courtesy of Oregon State University at Flickr.com