By Ebele Orakpo
Mr. Eyiowuawi Abiola is a lecturer at the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State and an associate member of the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. At the 12th National Council on Science and Technology Meeting and Exhibition held in Ibadan recently, Eyiowuawi spoke to Vanguard Learning on one of his innovations, Artificial Human Kidney Dialysis machine. Excerpts:
The idea behind the research into the dialysis machine, according to Mr. Eyiowuawi, a chartered technologist, came as a result of the upsurge in cases of kidney disease in which many lose their lives because of the high cost of dialysis and transplantation. A kidney patient undergoing dialysis in Nigeria will need between N25,000 and N30,000 per session which amounts to N75,000 or N90,000 a week. Not many can afford that. “Often, you see on the pages of newspapers people seeking financial assistance to do dialysis.”
Eyiowuawi said he was inspired by diabetics and insulin injection to come up with something for kidney patients. “Diabetics for instance, are trained to inject themselves with insulin before getting medical attention. The whole dialysis machine is so large and the process of getting it is very complex so I tried to reduce the whole thing to a small unit such that a kidney patient could be trained to operate it.
“He could dialyze himself if properly trained and even if he is unable to do that, a nurse nearby could be invited to help him. That will go a long way in prolonging a lot of lives because most people, because of the cost, end up waiting until the disease gets to the final stage where they will need transplantation. Besides the cost of transplantation, which is very high, there is also the psychological aspect. People are not willing to donate their kidneys to others,” he stated.
“Every human being is endowed with a pair of kidneys expected to last him a lifetime but because of our lifestyle, the kind of food we eat, the way we mismanage drugs and concoctions, people end up damaging their kidneys. Actually, one is expected to find this ailment in the aged but now, you see it in young people of productive age.“
“I reduced the whole system into a small unit and tested it by collecting some blood samples of mammals like rats and rabbits and inside the blood sample; there was urine and other wastes (basically large amount of ammonia and nitrogen-based compounds). The job of the kidney is to filter toxic wastes and urine out of the blood and return the clean blood into the circulatory system. The sample was run through the system with some dialysate, there was collection in Compartment A that is reddish in colour (colour of blood).
“The sample inside Compartment A was tested and we found that the ammonia and nitrogen compounds in the sample were very low compared to what was passed into the system initially. The content of Compartment B was analysed and it was basically ammonia and nitrogen-based compounds which indicates urine and it is not reddish in colour like the other sample. That means automatically that separation had taken place. What came out was the waste product, urea and the rest of them that we expected. It means this principle has worked although it is just at the laboratory stage,” he said.
“Usually, before you begin to think of testing a product on people, it has to pass certain stages. We started with the use of smaller mammals, then moved on to larger mammals like monkeys and gradually, to gorillas and chimpanzees which are closer to humans. After that, you can then begin to think of serious medical tests, first on people that have actually lost all hope and so on. You can see how crude it looks. We are looking for assistance right now to support this research work so that eventually, it will go a long way in saving lives.
This machine is going to be very cheap because eventually, the cost will not be up to N50,000 and maintenance will be in Nigeria because the technology is indigenous. It will save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange. We are not going to have to fly people out to UK or US just to undergo dialysis. The materials used are all locally sourced. What we need now is financial support to complete the project,” he stated.