Web China: Homemade dialysis machine sustains uremia sufferer for 13 years

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 18, 2013
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Three times a week, Hu Songwen sits on a small toilet in his home in a rural east China town and fires up his homemade dialysis machine.

A sufferer of uremia for 20 years, Hu built his own hemodialysis machine with medical equipment, such as a blood pump and plastic tubing, that he purchased from a local market. The crude device has sustained his life since he stopped going to the hospital 13 years ago.

Hu was a junior in college when he was diagnosed with uremia in 1993. After six years of medical treatment, hefty hospital bills completely depleted his family's savings.

"The cost for each home treatment is only 60 yuan (9.6 U.S. dollars), which is 12 percent of the hospital charge for dialysis," Hu said.

He skillfully mixes potassium chloride, sodium chloride and sodium hydrogen carbonate into purified water to make dialysis fluid before undergoing the procedure.

The single man lives with his 81-year-old mother in a house at the end of a quiet lane in Qutang township of Jiangsu province.

Hu kept his home treatments a secret until July of last year, when he uploaded a video of his home dialysis procedure to the Internet. The footage became an online sensation after Hu's story was reported by the Southern Weekly last week.

Hu said the video was not intended to showcase his invention, but to gain the attention of philanthropists who may be able to help him obtain more suitable treatment.

Hu said the home treatments can be dangerous. Two of his friends, both uremia patients, died after building and using similar dialysis machines.

For more than a decade, Hu devoted his mind to home treatment and didn't care about what's going on in the outside world. He got a big surprise last year when he learned the big change in treatment of such illness.

Applying for a minimum living allowance, he accidentally learned that a nationwide rural cooperative medical insurance and a medical aid system targeting serious illnesses has put uremia under its cover.

The local government included him in the two systems in October 2012. In theory, the medical cost of each hospital treatment for him has plummeted to 60 yuan, the same as the cost of his home treatment.

Yet he is still reluctant to abandon his 13-year-old home treatment, noting the inconvenient in getting to the nearest hospital with dialysis facilities.

"The trip to the Hai'an People's Hospital is long and the hospital is always crowded," he said.

According to previous media reports, there are more than 1 million uremia patients in China, with the number still rising by 120,000 every year.

Han Xiaojun, a doctor of nephrology at the hospital, said home dialysis patients like Hu could do better with professional medical advice to minimize operational risks.

However, no doctor would risk his or her career to give such advice, as those doctors could be held responsible if the patient in question dies, Han said. Endi

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