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    Home Dialysis Machine

    Automated PD System intended for automatic control of dialysis solution exchanges in the treatment of pediatric and adult renal failure patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis.
    Baxter International Inc. is introducing a do-it-yourself kidney dialysis machine that patients can tote around in a suitcase and use while they sleep. The big medical equipment company, which is based in Chicago, hopes its Homechoice system will convince doctors to switch patients from traditional dialysis, in which they must sit in a clinic for about four hours three times a week to have their blood cleansed of wastes.

    Homechoice is not the first home dialysis product -- they have been around since the early 1980's. The difference, Baxter executives said yesterday, is that this one applies computer technology to make it portable and much simpler to use. Sets Up in 5 Minutes. Its cost is expected to be about half the $20,000 to $35,000 a year that traditional dialysis costs, because it does not require doctors, nurses and the overhead costs of clinics, company executives said.

    "Essentially, there are three steps to follow and they can set up the machine in five minutes," Arthur Holden, a vice president of marketing at Baxter, said. Homechoice "seems to be an effective and valuable addition to what is available to patients," Dr. Garabed Eknoyan, a member of the board of the National Kidney Foundation, said. "It can do the job and it works at night without supervision."

    Homechoice uses a relatively new form of dialysis called peritoneal dialysis. A sterile fluid that is mostly sugar water is pumped into the abdominal cavity through tubes. The peritoneal membrane, which lines the cavity, filters wastes from the blood and transfers them to the fluid. After a period of time, the fluid is pumped out with the wastes. Traditional hemodialysis, the kind available in clinics, pumps the blood from the body to a machine that cleans it and pumps it back in.

    Baxter, which derives $1 billion of its $9 billion in annual revenue from dialysis machines and chemicals, pioneered home peritoneal dialysis. But it has not caught on because existing machines weigh about 200 pounds and are cumbersome, especially for older patients who often have circulatory or vision problems. Weighs 25 Pounds. Homechoice is about the size of a videocassette recorder and weighs about 25 pounds.

    A potential drawback, as with any peritoneal system, is the risk of infections because of the tubes running in and out of the body, doctors said. Machines will be leased to local doctors. Most of Baxter's profit will come from supplying the fluids and services, Tony White, a Baxter executive vice president, said. Mr. Holden said the company hoped that 35,000 patients would use the system by the end of the decade, adding about $400 million in annual revenues.

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