Chinese man kept alive for 13 years with HOMEMADE dialysis machine (bet you'll never complain about the NHS again!)
Hu Songwen built his machine after he could no longer afford hospital bills
He said two of his friends had died after building and using similar machinesOffered Government medical aid after story went national, but says nearest hospital is too far away and too crowded

By
Claire Bates

PUBLISHED:

14:36 GMT, 22 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:26 GMT, 22 January 2013

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.

Hu, who suffers from kidney disease, made it from kitchen utensils and old medical instruments after he could no long afford hospital fees.

He was a college student when he was
diagnosed in 1993 with kidney disease, which means waste products cannot be removed from his blood.

He underwent dialysis treatment in hospital but ran out of savings after six years. His solution was to create his own machine to slash his costs.

Hu Songwen

Hu Songwen uses his dialysis machine three times a week. He says it has kept him alive for 13 years

'The cost for each home treatment is only 60 yuan (6), which is 12 per cent of the hospital charge for dialysis,' Hu said.

He said he was not deterred despite the fact two of his friends had died after building and using similar machines.

The machine works like an external
kidney. It is made up of two compartments that are connected by a
membrane (a film-like structure that allows only some particles to pass
through it).

Blood is pumped through one half of the machine, while the
dialysis fluid is pumped through the other half.

Hu makes the dialysis fluid by mixing
potassium chloride, sodium chloride and sodium hydrogen carbonate
(bicarbonate) into purified water.

For the treatment, he inserts two tubes into his arm,
which are connected to his dialysis machine. The blood is pumped out of his arm
through one of the tubes, is filtered and then returned to his body via
the other tube.

Hu bought disused medical equipment, such as a blood pump and plastic tubing

Hu bought disused medical equipment, such as a blood pump and plastic tubing

Hu prepares his machine

Hu prepares his machine. He says his nearest public hospital is too crowded and too far away

Hu's kidney disease means he has
dangerously high levels of the minerals potassium and sodium in his blood. So he created a dialysis solution that has similar levels of potassium and sodium to healthy human blood.

When
the blood and dialysis fluid go through the machine, these excess
minerals are encouraged to go from his blood and through the membrane to
the fluid. This removes the waste products from his blood – and the
fluid is later thrown away.

This
spontaneous movement of particles from a high to a low concentration through a membrane is known as diffusion.

The 'clean' blood is then pumped back into his body.

Bottles of dialysis fluid, a pan for mixing and scales that Hu uses for his rough and ready treatment

Bottles of homemade dialysis fluid, a pan for mixing and scales that Hu uses for his rough and ready treatment

Hu's condition also means he has high levels of acid in his bodily fluids.

This can be dealt with by putting bicarbonate
back into his body. In this case, particles from the fluid pass the
other way through the membrane from the fluid into the blood, ready to
go back into his body.

Doctors warn that Hu runs the risk of
serious infection as well as long-term complications by not using
sterile water to make the fluid.

But Hu, who lives with his 81-year-old mother in Qutang township of Jiangsu Province, says he has limited options.

Hu was offered medical aid by the Government when his story sparked national interest thanks to report in the Southern Weekly.

The
funds would would bring the cost of hospital treatment down to the same
level as his home treatment. However, Hu said he was reluctant to
switch as the nearest hospital is far away and very crowded.

Hygiene issues: Hu's machine is in his bathroom by his toilet

Hygiene issues: Hu's machine is in his bathroom by his toilet