NASHVILLE (WSMV) - 700,000 Americans are suffering from kidney disease.
100,000 are on a wait list for a transplant.
The rest don't qualify and endure dialysis instead.
It's physically exhausting, and the sad truth, is 20% of them die every year.
"So if I get into a car accident today on my way home and I get kidney failure as a result, I'm not going to live to see my child graduate high school," said Dr. William Fissell at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Fissell has dedicated his career to finding a solution.
"We'd like to engineer an artificial kidney, a universal kidney, so that every single patient who's confronted with failing kidneys has an option," said Fissell.
He's accomplished his goal.
He's manufactured an artificial transplant-able kidney using cell phone technology and plastic.
"We can routinely filter blood with it for extended periods of time. We worked through the engineering challenges of blood compatibility, and clotting, and the surgical techniques, and so on, to the point where now we have an implantable filter," said Fissell.
The implications are astounding -- potentially taking people off of the kidney wait list and giving them a second chance at life.
"The technology is there. The funding is needed," said Fissell. "I'll feel good about it when I can see patients who, otherwise would be suffering, otherwise would be looking at premature death, and they get to go to their high school graduation, they get to watch their kids get married, they get to meet their grandchildren, that's when I'll feel happy about it.
Doctors hope to start clinical trials within a year.
They'd like to start performing these life saving transplant surgeries in the next 5 years.
To do that, they'll need about $11 million.
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