Canadian Armenian Student Invents $500 Dialysis Machine

Anya Pogharian speaks to CBC News about her project


MONTREAL—Seventeen-year-old Anya Pogharian’s high school science project could end up changing the way dialysis care is delivered, reports CBC News from Montreal.

After poring over online dialysis machine owner’s manuals, she developed a new prototype using simple technology.

While machines currently cost about $30,000, hers would cost just $500 — making it more affordable for people to buy and have at home.

Pogharian was inspired by volunteering at a hospital dialysis unit. When she was assigned a high school science project, she chose to work on a new kind of dialysis unit. She spent 300 hours on her invention — well above and beyond the mandatory 10 hours.

Dialysis is the process of cleaning waste from the blood. It’s typically used for people who have kidney disease. The treatment takes about four hours a couple times per week.

Anya Pogharian told CBC that she was inspired to find a better solution for patients who need dialysis after volunteering at a hospital.

Pogharian said she wanted to find a way to improve the procedure, which can be hard on patients.

“It takes a lot of energy out of them,” said Pogharian. “They’re very tired after a dialysis treatment.”

“You wouldn’t have to make your way to the hospital, which is a problem for a lot of patients. It’s not necessarily easy to make your way to the hospital three times a week, especially if you have limited mobility,” she said.

Her project has earned her a slew of scholarships and awards. Now, Héma-Québec has offered her a summer internship, to try out her invention with real blood.

“All the population will benefit from that kind of instrument that will reduce medical care cost, hospitalization stays. Basically, it’s a great idea,” said Louis Thibault, director of applied research at Héma-Québec.

Pogharian said she hopes one day her invention will be used overseas.

“Ten percent of patients living in India and Pakistan who need the treatment can’t afford it or can’t have it in any way. It’s not accessible. So that motivated me.”

But Pogharian says right now she’s focusing on doing well on her midterm exams.

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14 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    It would be nice if this invention was patented and produced in Armenia instead of some big pharmaceutical company in the west, but the downside is that Mother Russia will take the invention and market it as its own. Armenia is her oblast and is obliged to uphold the prestige and interests of Mother Russia.

  2. PAUL BARDIZBANIAN said:

    JUST IMAGINE HOW FAR ADVANCED A STATE AND CULTURE TURKEY WOULD BE NOW HAD THEY NOT DONE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE!!

  3. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Thank you Anya for you invention…and
    for thinking how to benefit
    the unlucky sicks with failed kidneys.
    Thank you Pogaryan for your gene
    which is eager to help humanity
    to live better and enjoy beautiful scenes.
    We wish you long and healthy life
    to think more and help the diseased and poor
    to afford to live in joyfulness with less pains…
    praying for your inventions to progress more and more…
    Dr. Sylva Portoian

    Note …When I went to Armenia, I noticed that most Armenians have Cleft-Chin (dimpled chin) and our inventor young clever Anya Pogharyan has very deep beautiful cleft-chin…Need to do some statistics about this old gene called ‘Cleft Chin’.

  4. Roxanne Makasdjian said:

    Congratulations to Anya. I’m interested in knowing how her invention works, how it differs from the mechanism of dialysis machines currently in use, and what allows it to be so inexpensive.

  5. Pingback: Canadian teen may revolutionize dialysis care » Edmontonians

  6. Garen Yegparian said:

    Proud to know your cousin, Anya.

    @Paul Bardizbanian- any relation to Bedros/Peter Bardizian/Bardizbanian, of Detroit and later Delaware?

  7. Vahram Jihanian said:

    Dear inventor Anya,
    I am extremely excited with your humanitarian invention of the simpler and cheaper version of the dialysis machine. I am equally proud that it was invented by an Armenian. Please patent in in all angles and protect your ownership of the invention as tomorrow some multinational company try to steal it or some organisation would attach it to a Jewish or american inventor name. We have the live example of the distorting the facts and the twisting of ideas about prof. Raymond Vahan Damadyan’s invention of the MRI Scanner. Allow me to present below an extract from an article titled,

    The not-so-Nobel decision – Recognition denied for achievement of great scientist Raymond Damadian—who is also a creationist. by Carl Wieland
    In June 1994, Creation magazine ran a feature article1 on Dr Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner. This medical breakthrough has saved many lives. We wrote how Dr Damadian had been awarded the United States’ National Medal of Technology. He has also been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, alongside Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers, where he was awarded the Lincoln-Edison medal.

    (At the time, Dr Damadian’s patents on the MRI scanner invention had been infringed. A jury decision in his favour had been inexplicably overturned by the judge in favour of the companies that had exploited his ideas. However, three years later, the US Supreme Court overruled in his favour.)

    In 2003, the Nobel Prize for Medicine went to the breakthrough field of diagnostic MRI scanning. It was shared by two scientists. But, to the stunned disbelief of virtually all who worked in that field, these did not include Raymond Damadian, even though the terms allow for up to three people to share the award.

    Dr Eugene Feigelson is Dean of the State University of New York College of Medicine in New York, the institution where Damadian’s pioneering work was done. He said, ‘… we are so disappointed, and even angry … all of MRI rests on the fundamental work that Dr Damadian has done here.’

    There is no doubt that the two scientists who were honoured, Dr Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield, did contribute to the field. Lauterbur developed techniques for producing images from scans, and Mansfield refined the techniques to make them more practical. But there is absolutely no question that the pioneering breakthroughs were Damadian’s. He was the first to point out, in a landmark 1971 paper in Science (based on experiments involving lab rats), that MRI could be used to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue. Lauterbur’s own notes indicate that he was inspired by Damadian’s work.

    With my very King regards and highest respect to you,

    Vahram Jihanian Sydney, Australia

  8. Audrey said:

    Dear Anya, bravo! As someone who works as an investor in high impact social enterprises in India and the emerging market context, I wanted to just applaud your drive and effort and achievement, and say your work will hopefully make a huge difference to many millions. Hopefully it will be productized after it is thoroughly tested, and placed in a vehicle/company that is capable of delivering it to the last mile. The biggest challenges for products like this are distribution and after sales service, not to mention the end user finance piece. Do get in touch through impactcirclearmenia.com if ever you wanna chat. Best wishes.

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