Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wearable hemodialysis machine - what's in it for me?

Those on dialysis must have read about the wearable dialysis machine that made news recently. This is a breakthrough in dialysis technology. Many of the constraints of dialysis as it is known today will cease to exist.

The device will make it possible to get dialysis 24 X 7. However, as Bill Peckham says, "I can't see myself on dialysis, with needles in my arm, as I go about my day." The main challenge is to have needles in your arm continuously. I am not sure if it is physiologically advisable either.

What then is the advantage of this device over the NxStage System One, for example, which already offers portable hemodialysis today?

Complete portability, for one. The System One, though portable, is a little difficult to lug around. You also need the RO unit or fluid bags to be moved around. This new device is more like a belt that can be worn around the waist. It is much smaller in size and much lighter.

Another important difference is the power supply. And this is important for me considering that the US and India use very different power supply types. The NxStage has to be connected to a power outlet which means that for the machine to run in India, I would need a good device that can transform the power to suit the device.

The wearable machine, on the other hand, uses small batteries. This means it can be run anywhere provided you have the correct batteries.

The trouble is availability. The NxStage System One was available in the US a few years back. It is not yet available in India. This new device is a few years from being used in the US itself. When will it become available in India?

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