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Traditional dialysis treatment. Photo by  Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.

Traditional dialysis treatment. Photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.


FDA Chooses Seattle To Test Artificial Kidney

Ruby de Luna

The US Food and Drug Administration is testing new technology to help patients with kidney failure. Seattle has been chosen to test a wearable, artificial kidney the FDA is evaluating for approval.


Right now, patients with end–stage kidney disease require dialysis. They go into hospitals or clinics at least three days a week. They're attached to a machine that filters waste and toxins from the body. It's a process that takes hours.

Dr. Jonathan Himmelfarb is director of the Kidney Research Institute at the University of Washington. He says the device they'll be testing will function like a dialysis machine, but much smaller.

Himmelfarb: "Instead a 500 pound machine, or something to that effect, which is what a conventional dialysis machine is today, all the components of a dialysis machine have been miniaturized to where a whole device will weigh roughly 10 pounds."

Himmelfarb says the small size allows patients to wear it around their waist. It makes treatment more portable.

Himmelfarb: "So the people, instead of being sort of tied to a machine in a dialysis center, someday might be able to receive their dialysis treatment while doing the things they would otherwise be doing in their lives."

Himmelfarb says researchers will test the device for safety and effectiveness. They also want to know if it could be used around the clock. If so, the artificial kidney could filter fluids and waste much more like a normal kidney.

Dr. Himmelfarb says they're still working out details of the trial with the FDA. The trial will be conducted with collaboration from the University of Washington Department of Health Services and the Northwest Kidney Centers.

I'm Ruby de Luna, KUOW News.

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