$100 Dialysis — the vision

By John Pickering 09/01/2012

$100 dialysis will do for health what the $100 computer did for education.

I have no expertise in dialysis, I’ve only published one paper and a letter that address it directly. What I know is that there are millions the world over with kidney failure whose only hope is transplant or dialysis.  What I see is that dialysis is very expensive – machines and treatments cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that it is only those of us in the so called developed world who have access to them.  This was highlighted by the story of a tongan woman who had come to New Zealand for an eye op (funded from Tonga), who was subsequently found to need life saving dialysis. She was not entitled to it in New Zealand.  There were no dialysis machines in Tonga.  Without a machine she would die.  These people are our neighbours in the pacific, asia, and africa.  Dialysis is conceptually simple, it is a way of filtering waste from the blood. Practically so much waste needs to be filtered, very precisely, whilst maintaining the correct proportions of water and salts, that dialysis is also a substantial challenge.  Extraordinary progress in materials science and the ability to manufacture simple pumps using desktop 3D printers give me hope that $100 Dialysis will be a reality.  Social networking and the internet provide the means by which a vision may be propagated and progressed.  My vision is for a dialysis machine that costs just $100 to manufacture and $100 a year to run, a machine that will save a million lives. I do not see myself as leader of a project, there will need to be dozens of projects led by people far more skilled than I – nephrologists, engineers, nanotechnologists, intellectual property lawyers and the like, simply I hope to light a fire.