PHOTO: The Wearable Artificial Kidney, also known as the WAK, is a miniaturized dialysis device that can be worn like a tool belt.
A portable kidney machine may offer affordable dialysis treatment in Tonga.
The prototype device, known as the Wearable Artificial Kidney, was cleared for human testing in the United States last year.
The recently established Tonga Dialysis Foundation wants to bring the Wearable Artificial Kidney (WAK) treatment to the kingdom.
The foundation’s president, Saia Moehau, said the WAK fitted Tonga’s economic situation, was easy to use and cheaper than conventional dialysis machines.
Moehau said dialysis was not carried out in Tonga because it was very expensive.
He said the foundation was co-ordinating its work with a number of Tongan committees in the United States.
Moehau was in the United States last week to attend a national symposium of nephrologists (kidney specialists) in Orlando, Florida.
The WAK was presented at the gathering and was described as being more convenient and effective than conventional machines.
Moehau said nephrologists from Cedar Sinai Hospital and UCLA and the Davita Dialysis Centre in Century City in Los Angeles had offered to act as advisors to the Tongan Dialysis Foundation.
The initiative for the Dialysis Foundation came from Crown Prince Tupouto’a, who is its patron and chairman.
Moehau said the Prince wanted to involve Tongan international communities.
He set up Tongan dialysis committees in Salt Lake City led by Reverend Sione Tukutau, in Los Angeles led by President Tuita Tu’i’asoa and ‘Oloka Fifita, in Long Beach led by Latu Takapu and Bruce Reichenbacher and in San Francisco led by Kalatini ‘Ahio.
Moehau said the foundation wanted to engage as much community help as possible to ensure the organisation was successful and sustainable.
He said more Tongan community committees would be soon established in New Zealand and Australia.
Moehau said the organisation has been registered in the United States and Tonga as a non-profitable organisation.
The members of the foundation are:
Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa (Patron and Chair)
Hon Saia Piukala (Minister of Health)
Hon ‘Etuate Lavulavu (Minister of Infrastructure)
Hon Poasi Tei (Minister of Public Enterprises)
Siosaia Moehau (President)
Ratu Rokorui (Deputy President)
‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi (Secretary General)
Tanusia Paea (Assistant Secretary)
Soane Ramanlal (Treasurer)
Sangster Saulala (Public Relations and former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Forestry)
Members of the foundation’s steering committee elected by the Crown Prince are: Dr. Sione Latu, Dr. Lisiate ‘Ulufonua from the Ministry of Health, ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi and Sangstar Saulala.
A new website for the foundation is being created by a website developer company in the States and is expected to be launched two weeks from now.
“I Thank the Prime Minister of Tonga and the government, especially the Minister of Health and his staff, for making people’s lives a priority and being willing to work together with the Crown Prince to achieve the purpose of the initiative,” Moehau said.
“We cannot just rely on our government to do everything for us. We have to stand up and do it before we ask government for help.”
What is the Wearable Artificial Kidney?
The Wearable Artificial Kidney (WAK) is a device that reproduce the components of a stationary dialysis system, but with a few modifications.
It is battery powered and does not use a large external source of pure water. Instead, it continuously filters and recycles only 400cc of water.
The entire package weighs about 4.5 kilograms, but its developers believe it can be made even lighter.
It is claimed to allow greater mobility for dialysis patients, reducing the time needed for treatment and improving their quality of life.
The device was invented by nephrologist Dr Victor Gura from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles.
The device is at the prototype stage and has undergone limited human clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Italy.
It was approved for human testing by the United States Food and Drug Administration late last year.
The main points
- A portable kidney machine may offer affordable dialysis treatment in Tonga.
- The recently established Tonga Dialysis Foundation wants to bring the Wearable Artificial Kidney (WAK) treatment to the kingdom.
- The foundation’s president, Saia Moehau, said dialysis was not carried out in Tonga because it was very expensive.
- He said the foundation was co-ordinating its work with a number of Tongan committees in the United States.
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