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insideLHSC: The evolution of Lawson's kidney research

Almost 70 years after the first artificial kidney machine in Canada was developed at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital, Lawson scientists are working to change the way we treat kidney failure in the future.

Dr. Amit Garg with a dialysis machine

Lawson scientists Drs. Amit Garg (above) and Chris McIntyre are leading a clinical trial that has the potential to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for patients on dialysis.

LHSC: Victoria Hospital - 

In the 150 years since Canada’s Confederation, Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) - the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London - has achieved numerous national and world firsts in hospital-based research.

One is the development of the first artificial kidney machine in Canada, at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital. 

Until the late 1940s, patients diagnosed with kidney failure had no chance of survival.

Dr. Willem Kolff, in Holland, began investigating the prospect of mechanically replicating the kidney’s functions and built two different artificial kidney machines.

Dr. Jacobus van Noordwijk, who had worked with Dr. Kolff, spent a year at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital instructing physicians on how to build and operate an artificial kidney machine.

Canada’s first artificial kidney machine was developed at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital in 1949.

Scientific accomplishments in the health sector, like the artificial kidney machine, are an important part of our country’s heritage, and they also contribute to the legacy left for future generations.

Now almost 70 years later, we still use a version of the artificial kidney machine – dialysis – to treat patients with kidney failure by removing toxins and extra fluid from the body.

​Lawson scientists such as Drs. Chris McIntyre and Amit Garg are working to change the way we treat kidney failure in the future. They are leading a clinical trial that has the potential to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, the leading cause of death among dialysis patients.

Drs. Chris McIntyre (above) and Amit Garg are investigating whether personalizing the temperature of dialysis fluid can protect the heart and brain from injury.

Their team has shown that the heart and brain become starved of blood and oxygen during dialysis. About half of patients experience large drops in their blood pressure while receiving treatment, which can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramping. Repeated drops in blood pressure can also injure the heart and brain. Over time this may lead to heart attacks, strokes, and sometimes death.

They are now investigating whether personalizing the temperature of dialysis fluid, called dialysate, can protect the heart and brain from injury.

Read the full story on the insideLHSC website.