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Downing the walls of kidney treatment

SOME of the participants in the 2018 Falling Walls conference. PICTURE: COURTESY OF FALLING WALLS

FRANCIS LUNGU, BERLIN, GERMANY
AHMED Ghazi, an Egyptian scientist, may just have an answer to the complexities encountered by surgeons during kidney operations following his invention that reduces surgical errors and prevents excessive bleeding in a patient.
Based at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in the United States of America (USA), Dr Ghazi has invented an artificial kidney casket which was presented under the title “Breaking the wall of surgical errors”, during the 2018 Berlin science week.
According to Dr Ghazi, the invention was based on a technicque that would ease operations on patients and also reduce the cost of kidney treatment as it is far much faster than an ordinary way of conducting an operation.
Kidney-related complications are among the world’s growing health concerns and treatment has not been easy.
Dr Ghazi’s invention brings hope as a game changer in the surgical procedure of kidney patients as it helps reduce haemorrhage in a kidney patient during an operation.
He said the artificial kidney casket cannot replace a human kidney because it does not produce urine.
“Unfortunately, it cannot produce urine; it is made to provide the surgeon with a realistic platform for surgeons to rehearse complex cases, therefore avoiding errors and making the live surgery faster and with less blood loss,” he said in an interview.
So far, 60 patients have successfully undergone surgical procedures in the USA using his invention, he said, and their respective health insurance policies met the cost.
“There was a patient who had a tumour growing inside the kidney. This was a very difficult surgery to do,” he said. “If we had removed his whole kidney, he would have ended up on dialysis. So we needed to act or make sure that the results ended up with removing the tumour and leaving [the] rest of the kidney.”
He further explained: “So what we did is that we made a replica of his kidney, put it inside a body-cast that is exactly his. Then basically the complication was that if we cut the kidney, he would have bled too much. But we succeeded.”
On how other countries like Zambia would benefit from such a discovery, Dr Ghazi observed that most emerging economies lack health infrastructure to support such advanced health inventions.
Nonetheless, he is of the view that once developing countries had the right equipment and developed well-operational health insurance schemes, the cost of the kidney surgical procedure would not be a worry.
Dr Ghazi’s discovery emerged among the six winners from a total of 100 inventions from mostly emerging scientists around the world at the Berlin Science Week organised by the Falling Walls Foundation of Germany.
Another young and emerging inventor, Maelle Hortense, a university student from Senegal, presented her discovery under the title “Breaking the wall of recycling and sorting plastic waste”.
Her invention comes in the wake of the fast-growing challenge of solid waste management in Senegal, a situation which is very much similar to Zambia’s.
She has developed a simplified and cost-effective machine that sorts out plastic waste with a reflective detector that is able to identify and categorise waste according to colour.
“This invention makes it easier to sort out plastic waste. I realised that many countries have different garbage colour, making it very difficult to separate.But this invention brings efficiency in waste management,” she said.
All the 100 scientists and emerging inventors who presented their works at this year’s Falling Walls Foundation were encouraged to continue adding value on their works to solve a variety of problems across the world.
Falling Walls Foundation has for a decade now availed a podium for international scientists to showcase their research work in a bid to deal with global challenges.
It is a unique international platform for leaders from the scopes of science, business, politics, the arts and society, all aimed at finding solutions to better people’s lives.
The foundation was initiated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which had divided East Germany and West Germany in the post-World War II era.
Inspired by this historic and world-changing event of November 9, 1989 which witnessed the two parts of Germany being united as one, the question of every Falling Walls gathering is: Which walls will fall next?
This question was being answered as international scientists and emerging inventors gathered for the Berlin Science Week from November 1-9 under the auspices of the Falling Walls Foundation.
Falling Walls events foster discussion on research and innovation to promote the latest scientific findings among a broad audience from all parts of society.
Any challenge facing humanity around the world, as far as Falling Walls Foundation is concerned, is looked at as a ‘wall’ that needs to fall by finding scientifically inclined solutions.
During the Falling Walls Foundation presentations in a session known as the Laboratory, on November 8 at the Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz, 100 young and emerging scientists and inventors showcased their respective discoveries in a spectrum of fields.
In showcasing their individual scientific prowess in three minutes each, presenters took turns in filling a three-segmented session that lasted from 09:30 hours to 16:45 hours.
The audience,which gathered in hundreds from all over the world, was treated to astonishing discoveries all aimed at addressing challenges ranging from health, fishing techniques, energy, human concentration monitoring and solid waste management, among others.
Most innovations and inventions unveiled at the event focused on the high disease burden and how to reduce the cost of treatment with affordable and efficient health solutions.
Answers to health problems were also tilted towards sorting out existing technological, medicinal and treatment inefficiencies across all ailments faced by humanity.
At the end of the presentations from across the globe, six winners emerged whose discoveries will receive both financial and material support for furtherance.
According to Falling Walls Foundation managing director Tatjana Konig, the Falling Walls Conference is an annual science event in Berlin which showcases the research work of international scientists from a wide range of fields.
Alongside the Falling Walls Conference, there is also Falling Walls Circle, an exclusive platform connecting decision-makers from governments, the corporate world and visionaries discussing ways of tackling challenges in science and society.
Ms Konig said the Falling Walls Circle is also aimed at creating a high-profile and multidisciplinary discussion in shaping the future agenda through exchange of ideas and developing solutions for today’s most pressing issues in science and society.
“The overall theme of this year’s gathering is ‘Human Genius in the age of artificial intelligence’. The goal of the meeting is to explore the role of exceptional human minds in breakthrough ideas, and the ways in which human performance might be complemented, rivalled, or outdone by the emergence of artificial intelligence,” she said.
The Falling Walls Foundation, a charity, is generously supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Helmholtz Association, the Berlin Senate and numerous other acclaimed academic institutions, foundations, companies, non-governmental organisations and prominent individuals.
The 2018 Falling Walls event concluded with a question: Which are the next walls to fall?


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