Amsterdam man leads push to develop portable artificial kidney

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Kidney patient Fabian Cornelissen, the face of the Dutch Kidney Foundation's worldwide campaign for a portable artificial kidney (Photo: Dutch Kidney Foundation/Facebook). (Kidney patient Fabian Cornelissen, the face of the Dutch Kidney Foundation's worldwide campaign for a portable artificial kidney (Photo: Dutch Kidney Foundation/Facebook))

Amsterdam man Fabian Cornelissen is the face of a world wide campaign, launched by the Dutch Kidney foundation on Monday, aimed at developing the first portable artificial kidney. The aim of the campaign, called Help Them Escape, is to raise the 10 million euros needed to build such a portable artificial kidney and to help give kidney patients dependent on dialyses get their freedom back.

The foundation has been working on the development of a portable artificial kidney for several years, along with universities and companies. The device will perform the same function as dialyses, but is the size of a shoe box and can thus be easily fitted into a car or plane, Het Parool reports. There is already much knowledge and technology available, but building a prototype costs a lot of money. Hence the worldwide fundraising campaign.

The Dutch Kidney Foundation chose to jump into action because the pharmaceutical companies are not investing in improving dialysis. "We could have chosen to fund research in the hope that the treatment would some day improve. We chose to take action", Tom Oostrom, director of the Kidney Foundation, said to the newspaper. Since the first artificial kidney was developed in 1943, the medical profession has taken huge leaps, but the dialysis technique and outlook for kidney patients is still about the same, according to Oostrom.

A portable artificial kidney would dramatically improve the lives of 2.5 million dialysis patients worldwide, some 6,500 of them Dutch, who can not survive a week without undergoing dialysis.

The main innovation of the portable artificial kidney is in the reuse of dialysis fluid. A dialysis machine uses between 60 to 100 liters of fluid to flush a patient's blood. The portable version will have to get by with 5 liters. The Kidney Foundation aims to have a prototype ready in 2018.

36 year old Amsterdam kidney patient Fabian Cornelissen is the face of this campaign. He was diagnosed with a hereditary kidney disease at age 25. After going to the Amsterdam Medical Center for dialysis three times a week for many years, he finally decided to have a dialysis machine installed in his home. "Yes, I can go on vacation, but we have to plan it a year in advance and it can only be near a big city, so I can undergo dialysis in the hospital."

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