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UK Engineer Wins World Dialysis Prize

Isle of Man Engineer wins world wide competition.


World’s First Low Cost Dialysis Unveiled

It’s an invention that could save millions of lives each year and transform the way kidney disease is treated around the world.

After a year-long global quest, the world’s first low cost dialysis system has been unveiled on World Kidney Day.

The inventor of the innovative design has been awarded the Affordable Dialysis Prize and taken home US$100,000. The prize was jointly established by The George Institute for Global Health, the International Society of Nephrology and the Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology and supported by the Farrell Family Foundation.

The Affordable Dialysis Prize encouraged inventors around the world to develop an innovative dialysis system which works just as well as a conventional approach, but runs off solar power, can purify water from any source, has low running costs and can be sold for less than a thousand dollars.  

The winning design by engineer Vincent Garvey is so compact it can fit into a small suitcase, and uses a standard solar panel to power a highly efficient, miniature distiller capable of producing pure water from any source.  

Vincent Garvey, a manufacturing engineer from the United Kingdom’s Isle of Man, had little knowledge of dialysis or kidney disease when he entered the competition, but was inspired by the challenge and the chance to save lives.

Mr Garvey said: “The statistics are pretty chilling. We are not just talking about one individual, there are millions of people who don’t have access to dialysis and currently suffer pretty awful deaths.

“I have always loved a challenge and the idea of solving this problem excited me from the start. It’s incredible to win this prize but I am already focused on building the team to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Research published in The Lancet last year revealed while more than nine million people in the world need dialysis for terminal kidney failure only 2.61 million currently get this life-saving treatment.

Conventional dialysis systems cost several tens of thousands of dollars. They are widely available in most developed countries but much less so in countries with limited funds for healthcare.

Professor Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health, Australia, said the judging panel, made up of nine global dialysis experts, was unanimous in its decision.

Professor Perkovic said:  “We congratulate Vincent Garvey and look forward to supporting him to build and test his exciting invention, and bring it to those many millions of people around the world who are currently missing out on dialysis treatment.

“Dialysis has been with us for more than 50 years but there has been no great leap forward in its design or, more importantly, its cost, remaining hugely expensive and out of reach for millions of sick people.

“It’s been a long time coming but this invention just might be the radical overhaul we’ve all been hoping and waiting for.”

Work is already underway on building a prototype with sponsorship and funding opportunities actively being sought. It is hoped animal trials could start as early as 2017, with human trials potentially underway within two to three years.


For interview requests and multimedia contact:

Julia Timms, The George Institute for Global Health

0410 411 983 jtimms@georgeinstitute.org.au



How does the winning design work?

Vincent Garvey’s winning dialysis system recognises the critical barrier to affordable dialysis is the lack of cheap, sterile water in countries where the electricity supply is unreliable and water sources may be contaminated. Using a standard solar panel, it heats water taken from any local source to make steam, which is used not only to sterilise the water but also to fill empty peritoneal dialysis (PD) bags under sterile conditions. PD is potentially much cheaper than haemodialysis, but in poor countries the cost of transporting thousands of foreign manufactured two litre bags of PD fluid to remote locations can make it prohibitive.

The winning entry will be just as useful for short term dialysis for acute kidney failure, supporting children and young adults whose kidneys have stopped working temporarily due to infection or dehydration, and for whom just a few days of dialysis can be lifesaving. The design also offers detailed plans on how the system could be used for affordable haemodialysis, the more common type of dialysis.


Why do we need a low cost dialysis system?


  • Research published by The George Institute in 2015 revealed that millions of people globally die unnecessarily every year because they cannot access treatment for kidney failure (dialysis or a kidney transplant).  
  • The report showed 2.61 million people around the world were on chronic dialysis for terminal kidney failure but as many as seven million people more could be missing out on life saving treatment.
  • Most of these preventable deaths occurred in China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria, where less than a quarter of eligible patients receive treatment for kidney failure.
  • By 2030 the number of people receiving treatment is predicted to double to over five million. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61601-9/fulltext


 About Vincent Garvey

Vincent Garvey is based on the Isle of Man, just off the coast of the United Kingdom, but also works as a consultant in China.  He has a strong background in mechanical and electronic engineering and bringing new products to the marketplace.


The Judges

Simon Davies, UK. Nephrologist.  Past President of the International Society of Peritoneal Dialysis.

John Feehally, UK. Nephrologist.  Past President of the International Society of Nephrology.

David Harris, Australia. Nephrologist. President of the Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology.
Nicholas Hoenich, UK. Biomedical Engineer.  Convenor of the ISO Technical Committee on Renal Replacement, Detoxification and Apheresis.

Vivekanand Jha, India. Nephrologist.  Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health, India.

Peter Kerr, Australia. Nephrologist.  Editor, Nephrology.

John Knight, Paediatric Nephrologist.  Professorial Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health.

Luca Segantini, Belgium. Executive Director, The International Society of Nephrology.

James Tattersall, UK.  Nephrologist. 


The George Institute for Global Health

The George Institute for Global Health is improving the lives of millions of people worldwide through innovative health research. Working across a broad health landscape, The George Institute conducts clinical, population and health system research aimed at changing health practice and policy worldwide. The George Institute has a global network of medical and health experts working together to address the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Established in Australia and affiliated with The University of Sydney, the Institute today also has offices in China, India and the United Kingdom, and is also affiliated with Peking University Health Science Centre, the University of Hyderabad and the University of Oxford. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @georgeinstitute


International Society of Nephrology – ISN

Since its foundation in 1960, the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) has pursued the worldwide advancement of education, science and patient care in nephrology. The Society represents a wide international network and provides an efficient platform for timely scientific exchange, debate and dissemination between healthcare professionals around the world. It is also dedicated to addressing the disparity between the developing and developed worlds in the research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of kidney disease. The ISN has over 9,000 professional members from more than 126 countries. In addition, ISN closely collaborates with over 80 national and regional nephrology societies around the world, representing about 20,000 professionals.


 The Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology – APSN

The Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology (APSN) represents the nephrology community throughout the Asia Pacific region, which is home to more than 60% of the world’s nephrologists and patients with kidney disease.  Its members come from 16 national nephrology societies and from all countries within the region.  The APSN aims to promote and encourage the advancement of scientific knowledge and research in all aspects of nephrology, and to promote the exchange and dissemination of this knowledge in the Asia Pacific area. It aims to cater specifically for the needs of the nephrology community throughout the region, especially fostering the development of high quality nephrology in the less well developed countries of the region.