Irishman’s new low-cost dialysis machine an international hit

11 Mar 2016

An Irish engineer has received international recognition for designing a new low-cost kidney dialysis machine that could be a “brilliant game-changer”.

An Australian competition to develop alternative dialysis systems that are dramatically cheaper than modern methods found Meath man Vincent Garvey’s creation to be the best of the lot.

Garvey’s design is small, portable and potentially revolutionary, with Kidney Health Australia’s CEO Anne Wilson saying it just might be a “brilliant game-changer”.

The rules of the competition – called The Affordable Dialysis Prize – are simple. Inventors were asked to develop a working dialysis system that runs off solar power, can purify water from any source, has low running costs and can be sold for less than €900.

Incredible accolade

Garvey, who is from Meath but has been based in China for 15 years, said the win was “incredible”. He scooped a prize worth €91,000 for his efforts, and a prototype is now being made. Animal trials, followed by human trials, stand between Garvey’s winning idea and a marketable product.

“The statistics are pretty chilling,” said Garvey. “We are not just talking about one individual, there are millions of people who don’t have access to dialysis and currently suffer pretty awful deaths.

“It’s incredible to win this prize but I am already focused on building the team to tackle the challenges ahead.”

The judging panel, made up of 10 global kidney specialists, was unanimous in its decision.

“Dialysis has been with us for more than 50 years but there has been no great leap forward in its design or, more importantly, its cost, remaining hugely expensive and out of reach for millions of sick people,” said professor Vlado Perkovic, from the George Institute in Australia.

“It’s been a long time coming but this invention just might be the radical overhaul we’ve all been hoping and waiting for.”

Main image of standard dialysis machine via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic