Now the tool-belt sized prototype has been granted approval for human testing in the United States by the FDA with clinical trials scheduled to take place in Seattle later this year.
The result of over a decade of development, the WAK was conceived by a team led by Victor Gura at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. It's a miniature dialysis machine small enough to be worn like a tool belt and is connected to the patient by means of a catheter. According to the team, with such a device, patients would no longer be spending time in long, boring static sessions, but could be out and about working or playing while the wearable unit cleaned their blood on the go.
Like a conventional dialysis machine, the WAK filters out waste products from the patient's blood after their own kidneys have failed. But while a conventional dialysis machine is the size of a filing cabinet, and even a portable version is as large as a computer printer, the WAK weighs only 10 lb (4.5 kg).
This is very important because dialysis takes up to four hours at a time, three times a week, during which the patient is attached to the machine.