Is the Wearable Artificial Kidney the Future for Dialysis?

January 2016 - When your kidneys reach the point of being unable to function on their own, dialysis treatment follows. And it can be a challenge to get used to.

If you don't do dialysis treatments at home, you've got to manage your schedule, drive time, and treatment time, to receive dialysis treatment at a clinic or hospital. And the typical session last four hours at least three times a week. You know the routine, right?

But what if there was a way to filter your blood without being tethered to a machine? It's a question that has fueled the research of Dr. Victor Gura at the University of California. For decades, Gura has studied the plight of those on dialysis to try and find a better way to deliver treatment.

And he has. It's called the Wearable Artificial Kidney. The device is still in development, but Gura is making progress. In a recent clinical trial, dialysis patients wore the Wearable Artificial Kidney in place of traditional dialysis treatment for 24 hours. And it had a major impact on quality of life in just that short span of time, because it continuously filters the blood and functions as an artificial kidney, without the need for being tethered to a machine.

One dialysis patient in the trial ate two servings of macaroni and cheese and lots of potato chips (not recommended for those on dialysis, but there are tasty and healthy dialysis-friendly foods you can eat) and felt better than he had in years.

After additional clinical trials and some additional improvements to the Wearable Artificial Kidney, Gura hopes to make it available to help people who need dialysis treatment experience a better quality of life with the ability to hold a job and travel, without the need of traditional dialysis treatments.