After receiving a grant from the state in 1946, Nils Alwall, a doctor in Lund, began developing a dialysis machine for people suffering from kidney disease. Just over twenty years later, his inventions started to be mass produced.
The first use
One evening in September, the same year as Nils Alwall received the grant from the state, a man arrived at the hospital where Nils Alwall worked. His kidneys no longer functioned and Nils Alwall connected him to the machine that he had built. The blood flowed through a tube, was cleansed, and then flowed back again into the body.
Not for the chronically ill
Similar dialyses had been carried out previously in other parts of the world, but Nils Alwall was the one who first succeeded in ensuring that unnecessary liquid could be removed. At the outset, there were problems in reaching the blood circulation in the patient. That demanded major operations which could not be repeated too many times. Therefore, it was mainly patients with acute kidney failure that could be treated. The chronically ill had to wait until 1961 before dialysis became possible for them too.
Foundation of Gambro
Based on his dialysis model, Nils Alwall succeeded in developing an expendable kidney and an improved dialysis machine. With the help of an industrialist, he started to mass produce an artificial kidney made out of steel. He later came into contact with Holger Craaford, who decided to invest in the inventions and formed the company Gambro. In 1967, just over twenty years after Nils Alwall carried out the first dialysis, the inventions began to be produced on a large scale.