"The posterior surfaces of the kidneys, showing areas of relation to the parietes." by Henry Vandyke Carter / Public Domain

How artificial kidneys and miniaturized dialysis could save millions of lives

Mar 13, 2020

By Charlotte Huff

From the start, Mat Risher swore that dialysis wouldn’t upend his life. He had been working at a software company, conducting research on a car-racing simulator, when kidney damage from lupus forced him to start the blood-filtering treatments three times a week.

Five years have slipped by, and the sessions have sapped his resolve. The 33-year-old now works part-time. On good days, he enjoys trying out new recipes. On bad days, his lupus flares up and the strain of incessant dialysis leaves him drained. “The times in between [dialysis days], I have no social life, no dating life,” says Risher, who lives just outside Seattle, Washington. “I have become a recluse in my room.”

Risher is relatively fortunate; he has access to treatment, whereas up to seven million people could die each year without getting such care1. But Risher, a member of a patient advisory board at Seattle’s Center for Dialysis Innovation (CDI), is impatient for a more live-able option than dialysis — which has remained largely the same for 50 years.

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