The Portable Kidney – 3rd Place Winner, 6th Annual Essay Contest

By Mountrey Oliver

The Portable Kidney

Mountrey OliverIf I found a check in my mailbox for $100,000 I would be very surprised and happy.

My first thoughts, after the initial shock, would be to make life easier for patients with kidney failure who are on dialysis. I would spend my $100,000 check on the research and development of a portable artificial kidney.The portable artificial kidney, “Arty,” would be similar to a pace maker. “Arty” would be to the kidney what the pace maker is to the heart. The artificial kidney would be a small machine about the size of a woman’s fist. A patient would only need one artificial kidney that would be placed inside the patient’s body through a small 2 inch incision in the area where one of the kidneys is located. The artificial kidney would consist of a soft pliable type material that has a lot of micro fibers similar to a natural kidney’s nephrons.   It would also take over the functions of a diseased kidney by filtering nitrogenous wastes and toxins from the blood and produce urine. The urine would then be stored in the urinary bladder until it is full. The urine would then exit the body through the urethra.

In addition to removing waste and toxins Arty would maintain the proper balance of water, electrolytes, and acids in body fluids. Arty would also help to regulate and lower high blood pressure. Patients that have Arty installed would no longer have to be concerned with their potassium, calcium and phosphorus levels. Patients would have more variety of food choices.

Unlike a transplanted kidney, anti-rejection drugs would not be needed for Arty since it is not made of living tissues and cells. If an infection occurs at the site where Arty is placed, antibiotics will be given. The only pills the patient will be required to take while using Arty will be hormone pills, vitamins and medications for preexistent conditions.

Arty would be powered by a tiny battery that will need charging every 5 years. To charge the battery a doctor or nurse would hold an electrical wand over the body where the artificial kidney’s battery is located. The electrical charges from the wand would charge the artificial kidney’s battery. Because Arty has a lot of micro fibers that act as filters which can get clogged or worn, Arty would need to be replaced every 10 years for optimum performance.

Arty would be another treatment option for patients with kidney failure. It would be moderately priced and insurance companies would cover the cost of the machine, surgery to install it and the cost of recharging the battery. Like the convenience of a kidney transplant, traveling will be easier for patients who have an Arty. This portable device will give kidney patients another chance at living a relatively uncomplicated and fulfilling life.