Category 1 Winner Robert Richter

Second Hand

About four years ago when I just started peritoneal dialysis I met a gulf war vet in the kidney center waiting room. He lost his left hand in battle. He was there for hemodialysis but he had originally planned on peritoneal dialysis. While in training he immediately ran into problems opening the bags of dialysis fluid and dropping the cap when he opened the packet with his teeth. He was using a device supplied by the kidney center to make the fluid tube connections but he said it was difficult to use.

I gave his problem some thought over the following weeks and put together a wooden prototype of a device I thought could help. I mounted a toggle clamp to the base of the prototype to securely hold the fluid bags and packets while being opened. The prototype itself was firmly clamped to the table. To hold the tubes while making the connections I incorporated holding slots that were angled back so the tubes would not accidently fall out.

We tried out the prototype the next time we met and he was thrilled with it. A wood prototype was of course not practical so with the help of some friends I had a stainless steel and aluminum prototype built. An unexpected result of my design was that the prototype was dishwasher safe and easy to sanitize.

I had to switch kidney centers soon after he started using my device. As far as I know he is still using it.