Monday, January 14, 2013

The blue pill - 8

(This is the eighth part of the short story The Blue Pill. You can find the entire story here.)

Work began in full swing on the devices. The parts were ordered. Carefully the team assembled 50 devices. They formed multiple teams who would work in serial putting together the individual parts of the device. It was a painstaking process. Every part had to be tested for quality. A single mistake could jeopardize the whole project.

The teams were lead by a mix of people from Dr. Roy’s original team and some of the new people who had joined since the project moved to Babylon. Everyday the leads would meet in the morning at 8 in the Conference Room and plan the day, discuss roadblocks and figure out solutions. 

Simultaneously, the recruitment drive started. The team identified seven centers (all belonging to Babylon) where patients would be recruited to try the device. They would first use the device for 2 hours every day for 5 days, then use the device for seven hours thrice a week and then finally use the device for eight hours every night for 5 nights. Every day, blood samples would be drawn before, during and after the sessions. All the patients would be dialyzing in the centers.

There was a huge clamor for getting onto the trial. This was a testament to the dire need of such a device. Patients did not mind any risks that might come with an untested device. They wanted to try something that would give them freedom. They received a total of 463 applications for the trial.

The team shortlisted about 75 people out of which they would eventually choose 50.

In about four months, everything was in place for the trials to begin. 

A team from Babylon was sent along with devices to each center. Dr. Roy would work out of Babylon monitoring the trials closely and visiting each center in rotation.

The trials began.

Dr. Roy and his entire team were all on tenterhooks throughout the entire two hours. Dr. Roy could feel his heart pounding like crazy. All his efforts, all his hard work and all his dedication to this device were now on the line. He expected everything to go as per plan. It was after all the same device he had used on single patients in his lab and they had only got it to be better. At worst, the device should give them the same results as he had got in his previous experiments. These were good enough to get approval to proceed. At best they would be better than his earlier results which would be great!

The first day’s sessions all came to an end. Bloods were drawn and sent to the labs. No one could sleep until the results were back. It was all on expected lines! 

The next few days proceeded on predictable lines. The patients got decent clearances. Middle molecules were not removed but this was expected since they did only two hour sessions.

That weekend, the team put together all the results and ran the numbers through some statistical programs that computed the results as one comprehensive set of data rather than patient-wise figures. The numbers looked great!

The next set of tests would be longer duration ones. These were the tests that would really prove that the device would actually make a difference to people’s lives. The team was ready.

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