I literally woke up in the middle of the night with the idea of how to save these people.
After losing one of his patients because of this limitation in 1959, Scribner visualized the shunt: a u-shaped tube that joins an artery to a vein, which would be permanently implanted. Looking for a non-reactive material that wouldn’t cause clotting or infection, Scribner happened on Teflon by chance and turned to UW bioengineer Wayne Quinton. Together, they developed the Scribner shunt. When Scribner reported the breakthrough at a national conference, the audience of researchers rose to their feet, cheering.
The Seattle Artificial Kidney Center opened in 1962, the world’s first outpatient dialysis center, based on Scribner’s work. But the treatment was high-tech and expensive. The result was that doctors had to ration access, effectively deciding who lived and who died. Disturbed by this, Scribner urged his UW colleague Albert Babb to develop more efficient, less expensive dialysis machines and techniques. Today, more than 400,000 Americans receive long-term dialysis each year, a gift of life that UW innovators helped make possible.