Designed to save millions of lives – the world’s first affordable dialysis system

Ellen Medical Devices, an initiative of The George Institute for Global Health and a George Health company, is developing the world’s first affordable dialysis system to prevent millions of people dying unnecessarily each year because they cannot access this commonly used treatment for kidney failure.

Dialysis machines purify the blood, replacing an essential function of the kidneys. They cost US$10-20,000 or more each and need to be attached to elaborate water purification systems which often cost the same again.

In 2015, research from The George Institute published in The Lancet revealed that that ten million people in the world need dialysis for terminal kidney failure, but only 2.6 million have access to it. The findings painted a grim picture with the number of people needing treatment predicted to double to over five million by 2030.

The Affordable Dialysis Prize

Dialysis has been a safe and effective treatment for kidney failure for over 60 years, but it is very expensive.  Three out of every four people who need dialysis treatment in the world today will die because they cannot afford it.

To tackle this challenge, The George Institute, the International Society of Nephrology and the Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology, supported by the Farrell Family Foundation, launched a world-wide competition, with a prize of US$100,000, to design the world’s first truly affordable dialysis system.

After a year-long global quest, the world’s first low-cost dialysis system was unveiled on World Kidney Day, 10 March 2016. Vincent Garvey was awarded the Affordable Dialysis Prize.  

The Ellen Medical Dialysis System  

Costing under $300 to build and just a few dollars a day to run is the Ellen Medical Dialysis System. It is a breakthrough in low-cost technology, which can not only treat chronic kidney failure patients for many years but also provide life-saving acute dialysis in an intensive care setting.

Its low manufacturing and transport costs radically reduce the greenhouse gas burden of dialysis treatment. Point of care peritoneal dialysis will open up opportunities for millions of patients to access treatment for the first time, particularly in developing countries and remote geographies.  

Ellen Medical Devices is an initiative of The George Institute for Global Health and a George Health company.

Prototype of the Ellen Medical Dialysis system (Left – Professor John Knight, Managing Director; Centre – Navneet Kaur, Company Secretary; Right – Vincent Garvey, Director of Engineering). Copyright Ellen Medical Devices.

Final bench testing and small-scale manufacture of the affordable dialysis system are now underway in NSW, with clinical trials next planned for Sydney, India, Thailand, and Hong Kong over the next two years. Due to launch in 2024, it is expected that at least 10,000 patients will be receiving Ellen Medical Dialysis by 2026.

Ellen Medical Devices, supported by multi-million-dollar strategic grants, has partnership agreements with leading Australian regulatory, intellectual, property, design, quality, manufacturing and sterilisation contractors and maintains a family of patents in ten countries.  

The need for affordable dialysis