The First Dialysis Machine

Today, we are going to take a quick break from our current blog post topics and cover a bit of history: specifically, the history of dialysis.

Like many things, there are indications that those in the ancient world may have had their version of dialysis. However, we can trace the method of dialysis used today back to the 1940s. Dr. Willem Johan Kolff, a Dutch doctor is credited with creating the first ever machine for dialysis and creating it while under Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Though the first machine was a jumble of working garbage, we all are so thankful for Dr. Kolff’s ingenuity. Keep reading to learn more and be sure to shop Hemowear’s selection of comfortable PD belts and dialysis clothing.


Due to the shortage of supplies during World War II and the fact that there had not been anything like this constructed before, the first dialysis machine was one that was made from odds and ends that Dr. Kolff could salvage: sausage casings, beverage cans, a washing machine and other parts. Despite his innovation, during the two years following his invention, the attempts made to treat his patients were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until 1945 that he saw success: After being comatose, a 67 year old woman regained consciousness after 11 hours of dialysis.

Paving the Way

Kolff didn’t stop there. After World War II, he came to America and continued his research. Though many ridiculed him and his colleagues, calling dialysis an abomination, his work not only saved many lives then, but paved the way for the first kidney transplant and modern dialysis machines as well. It is because of the persistence of Dr. Kolff and those like him, that many today can have a better quality of life.

To learn more about dialysis itself, history of dialysis, care tips, and encouragement, follow our blog! Also, be sure to check out our PD belts and dialysis clothing! Hemowear is dedicated to creating clothes and accessories that can help those with dialysis have greater comfort when receiving their treatments and throughout their daily life. Shop our selection online!