Hu Songwen has displayed perhaps the most heartbreaking display of "Chinese ingenuity" yet by fashioning himself a homemade dialysis machine.
The Telegraph reports that Hu was a student on his way to becoming a meteorologist when he was diagnosed with renal failure in 1993, which means that he has dangerously high levels of potassium, sodium and acid in his body. Over the course of six years, he visited a local hospital every few days in order to have his blood cleaned by a dialysis machine. However, with a cost of about $80 a visit, each trip to the hospital drained him and his family of his savings.
So, in 1999, Hu built himself a home-made dialysis machine using everyday kitchen equipment, medical parts and a textbook. According to the Daily Mail, he was undeterred by the fact that two friends of his had died after using similar machines.
"As long as you have a high school degree, understand the principle of dialysis, follow the operational instructions and keep a close watch during the process, nothing should go wrong," he said to the Southern Weekly.
Hu said to a Chinese newspaper, The Southern Weekly, than the process costs only 60 yuan, or about $9.50, for each procedure, between the cost of chemicals and filters. His only major cost was a roughly $800 blood pump after he failed to build his own. He says that he can use each $15-filter eight times, which provide the bulk of the costs, though he says that a proper medical machine can cost thousands of dollars.
The Southern Weekly cited a 2008 report that found that the high cost of the procedure means that only 10 percent of Chinese people in need can afford to undergo dialysis on a regular basis.
Hu's machine pumps out his blood in exchange for dialysis fluid. Doctors warn that Hu could be at risk for serious complications because he does not use sterile water in the fluid.
Hu's plight made him a local celebrity when he posted a video of the procedure online, and the government has provided him with medical aid that would lower the cost of dialysis to the same amount that Mr. Hu spends on his home-made treatment. However, Hu is reluctant to leave his handmade dialysis machine because the hospital is so far away from his house and is very crowded.