In 1960, Dr. Belding Scribner and colleagues at the University of Washington developed an innovation that offered wide-open opportunities to people with kidney failure. The Scribner shunt made it possible to administer dialysis, and support life, indefinitely.
Community leaders founded a medical startup to deliver the now-proven treatment. Seattle Artificial Kidney Center (now Northwest Kidney Centers) opened in 1962 as the world’s first out-of-hospital dialysis clinic. Tucked into the basement of Swedish Hospital’s nurse dormitory, the unit had three beds and could accommodate nine patients. One was Clyde Shields, a young machinist, husband and father who had been the first to get a Scribner shunt.
Dr. Christopher Blagg had a front-row seat as dialysis practice developed in Seattle and around the world. He came to the Pacific Northwest from England in 1963 to study with Scribner’s team. His career unfolded to include nearly three decades at the helm of Northwest Kidney Centers. He was personally acquainted with the first patients, ethical dilemmas, funding challenges, triumphs and tragedies as dialysis therapy developed in Seattle.
Read his detailed account of what happened behind the scenes in his new book, From Miracle to Mainstream: creating the world’s first dialysis organization, now available on AmazonSmile.
Dr. Christopher Blagg in 2015