US-based National Kidney Foundation, in 2010, highlighted that, globally, there were over 2 million people undergoing dialysis, but this constituted only 10% of the those needing treatment. The figure is expected to be much higher, given that a lot of cases go unreported in countries like India. While dialysis does help kidney patients, it also restricts their movement as one has to make regular visits to the hospital. However, scientists may have found a solution to this. Researchers at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle have successfully been able to test a wearable kidney—a battery operated belt having various filters that functions as a kidney. While tests showed that the device could run for 24 hours, three of the seven patients had to stop the treatment due to some complications.
While it may take a few years before a more viable kidney for patients is developed, the research presents an opportunity for others working in the field to create wearable organs, for instance, lungs. Also, with scientists working on using live cells in 3D-printing and bio-printing opening up new opportunities, a working model may help them to recreate artificial kidneys, eliminating the need for transplant altogether. Though the technology is still some years away from being accessible to over 60 million people who suffer from chronic kidney diseases, the underlying theme of artificial organs foretells a longer life-span for humans.