Originally published in Volume 43 Issue 8 of Artificial Organs, 07 August 2019
In 1943, Willem Kolff (1911-2009) initiated hemodialysis in patients in The Netherlands and is considered a pioneer of dialysis treatment. However, Nils Alwall (1904-1986) of Lund, Sweden, built a dialysis apparatus a few years before Kolff, and greatly contributed to understanding the clinical aspects of dialysis therapy. His first experiments with laboratory animals (rabbits) date to the end of 1941. Alwall made a series of improvements to his original model of artificial kidney (“dialyzer-ultrafilter”) and the result was in fact the first serially produced apparatus in the world, with a wide therapeutic application. Seventy years have just passed since this dialyzer was introduced to clinical use in 1949. Before, Alwall performed numerous experiments with various apparatuses, whose structure evolved from a plate-type to a cylindrical apparatus with a spirally wound cellophane tube (semipermeable membrane). No sooner than 15 years later, in the mid-1960s, came the era of disposable dialysis filters (Figure 1).