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Kidney Dialysis Machine for Newborns Works, Study Finds

Update Date: May 23, 2014 02:07 PM EDT

Due to differences in body and organ sizes, children and adults require different kinds of medical devices and treatments for many illnesses. Researchers set out to create a kidney dialysis machine that could be compatible with newborns suffering from kidney failure. Now, according to a new study, the researchers from Italy have reportedly used the machine successfully in treating infants.

"We have developed a machine for neonates [newborns] who were not treatable before," said lead researcher Dr. Claudio Ronco, director of the department of nephrology at San Bortolo Hospital in Vicenza reported by Philly. "The neonate is so small that it requires dedicated technology, To try to treat the patient with an adult machine is like trying to fix a watch with a tool that you use for a large car."

Currently, the kidney dialysis machines for adults can be modified and used in young children. However, for infants, the machines risk overpowering the babies' small blood vessels. Adult machines are also not recommended for newborns weighing less than 6.6 pounds. The newest creation, named CARPEDIEM (Cardio-Renal Pediatric Dialysis Emergency Machine), is a smaller version of the adult machine designed for infants and children weighing from 4.4 to 22 pounds.

In the report, the researcher detailed using the machine for the very first time in August 2013. The case study involved an infant, weighing 6.3 pounds who suffered from multiple organ failure due to a complicated delivery. The baby was treated with the machine for more than two weeks. After the baby's kidney function was restored, the baby was healthy enough to leave the hospital. The researchers believe that the machine had saved the baby's life.

"To stay at the bedside of this baby with the machine we developed was to rediscover why I do medicine. It was satisfaction for 40 years of effort," said Ronco.

According to the researchers, the main difference between this machine and the adult dialysis one is that CARPEDIEM can handle low blood flow and filtration. The machine was made with tiny catheters that protect blood vessels. So far, 10 more infants have been treated with the machine successfully. The researchers hope that CARPEDIEM will be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The study was funded by the Association of Friends of the Kidney Vicenza.

"Having a machine designed for infants is certainly an advantage," Dr. Benjamin Laskin, a pediatric nephrologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said.

The study was published in The Lancet.

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