DIY Kidney Machine Saves Girl

When the tool you need doesn’t exist, you must make one. That’s exactly what [Dr. Malcolm Coulthard] and kidney nurse [Jean Crosier] from Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary did two years ago.

When a baby too small for the regular dialysis machine (similar to the one pictured above) needed help after her kidneys failed, the kind doctor designed and built a smaller version of the machine in his garage, then used it to save six-pound baby Millie Kelly’s life. Since then the machine has continued to be used in similar emergency situations.

[Photo: NomadicEntrepreneur]

17 thoughts on “DIY Kidney Machine Saves Girl

  1. My job is maintaining medical equipment and a lot of docs I know don’t even know what their equipment really does, dfinately not how it does it. Really cool to see a doc that has some skills.

  2. I wanna see the actual thing they built… That pic must be of her setup now that she is big enough, because thats a bog standard Prisma…
    I wonder what testing they did on this thing they built??? Companies go through hell to get medical stuff validated through the FDA etc etc, testing labs and what have you. I mean hell, I work on medical stuff and it can be prescribed down to the brand of batteries you put use.

  3. Amazing story. Love it. I wish there was more detail though. They make it sound like it was scratch built but I think a modified version of a standard machine is more likely.

    One thing to note though, its nice to credit people if they send in tips like this one. I know I sent this one and it sounds like Tom Parker did too.

  4. @ unitygain
    I doubt they did FDA required testing, as it seems that it wasn’t built in the USA.

    I suspect that the machine is just a smaller version, in all ways. A 6 lbs baby may very well have less blood in their entire body then an adult dialysis machine holds externally at any time. The doctor may have built the machine on the stock one, just changing out all of the parts; pumps, tubes, filters; for smaller ones.

  5. Brilliant, it saved a life which must make this the best hack ever.

    And yes no FDA checks as its British, we have a different organisation… But I assume the hospital board gave him permission to use it as there was no other hope…

  6. Well, this was in the UK, not in the US, but I know that in the states (and I’m guessing it’s similar over there), a doctor can go ahead and use a device, drug, or tool for whatever purpose he wants, without having to get any kind of FDA approval. The hospital he works for will ultimately have the final say, but the FDA only monitors and regulates devices and drugs that are marketed, and only for their intended purpose. If a doctor wants to, he can prescribe a drug with the intent of treating a completely different disease than what it was designed for, but the drug company can’t say their drug can also treat that disease unless they have done all the FDA required testing.

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