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Richard Stacewicz knows how much dialysis alters a person’s life. He first underwent the procedure after his kidneys inexplicably failed in 1982, cutting short a motorcycle trip through the southwestern United States. He spent more than a year visiting a haemodialysis centre three times a week, for four hours at a time. At the centre, a machine the size of a small refrigerator removed toxins from his body and rebalanced his blood chemistry. The procedure kept him alive, but reduced his quality of life. “It was pretty miserable,” he says. “I couldn’t do very much for at least the next six or so hours after dialysis — I had to go home and lay down.” Worse, he couldn’t do the travelling he loved.