More than a decade before Baxter unveiled the world’s first commercial disposable dialyzer, a physician named Dr. Willem Kolff was hard at work on what would become the prototype, which he called a “rotating drum kidney.” Dr. Kolff—who has been called the father of artificial kidney therapy—did not have access to a state-of-the-art laboratory or funding for new materials. On the contrary, he designed and built his first working dialysis machine out of materials that could be found in the Netherlands while World War II raged around him, including wood slats, orange juice cans and sausage casings.1
From these humble beginnings, modern renal care technology began to take shape. Dr. Kolff believed strongly in the medical necessity of dialysis, and after the war he moved to the United States, where he set about trying to refine his rotating drum kidney and make his ideas about dialysis a reality. Of the many companies that met with Dr. Kolff, only Baxter believed in his vision and decided to partner with him.2
This partnership sparked a flurry of progress in renal care technology and practice, and in the six decades since, Baxter has often been at the center developing innovative new technology and supporting efforts to educate clinicians about advances in dialysis. The following milestones are only some of the many “Baxter Firsts” that have defined—and continue to shape—modern nephrology.
1Friedman E. Willem Johan “Pim” Kolff: Artificial Kidney Therapy Founder and Overlord. In: Ing T, Rahman M, Kjellstrand C, ed. Dialysis: History, Development and Promise. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.; 2012:69-75.
2Sweeny J, Bernardo A. Baxter Travenol Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis Devices. In: Ing T, Rahman M, Kjellstrand C, ed. Dialysis: History, Development and Promise. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.: 2012:251-261.