Dialysis machines do the work of kidneys, cleaning the blood of impurities.

After two years of experimentation on terminal patients, 15 who died, Kolff successfully kept a woman suffering renal failure alive with his “artificial kidney” dialysis machine.

After WWII he donated the machines to hospitals around the world then immigrated to the US in 1950. He continued improving his machine, making it both more effective and smaller.

Eventually, he miniaturized it enough to make it portable allowing patients to receive dialysis at home. By 1973, 40 percent of American dialysis patients received home treatment. Due to skyrocketing healthcare costs only 10 percent of American dialysis patients are eligible for home treatment today.

Not only did he invent the dialysis machine but also he helped innovate other artificial organs including full-blown artificial kidneys and the heart-lung machine. Eventually, his work served as inspiration for the invention of the artificial heart.

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