Poo Can Save Lives Thanks to New Fecal Transplant

Fecal transplantation sounds gross and it’s not something most of us want to talk about. But if you have a form of colitis called Clostridium difficile, someone else’s fecal matter may cure what ails you.

“There is no doubt that poo can save lives,” Seth Bordenstein, associate professor of biological sciences and pathology, microbiology, and immunology at Vanderbilt University said in a press release. “Take the case of the use of fecal transplants to treat Clostridium difficile infections. According to the literature, it has a 95 percent cure rate.”

Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, is a gut infection that can affect anyone, but is typically seen in hospitals or long-term care facilities. According to the Mayo Clinic, about half a million people in the United States get C. difficile every year, and it’s getting more frequent. It causes severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon, which can be life threatening.

Fecal transplants can successfully treat C. difficile, according to Bordenstein’s article published in PLOS Biology. There’s also some indication that it may be helpful in treating Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS), but more research is needed.

Why does fecal matter help?

Per gram, healthy human stool contains about 100 billion bacteria, 100 million viruses and archaea (single-celled organisms), 10 million colonocytes, and a million yeasts and other single-celled fungi.

Basically, it’s taking stool with healthy bacteria and giving it to someone infected with C. difficile. It restores a healthy balance so they can fight infection.

How fecal microbiotica transplantation (FMT) is done

The C. difficile organism can be detected in a stool sample. The first-line treatment is antibiotics. In about 30 percent of patients, the infection returns within a few days or weeks after antibiotic treatment, according to Johns Hopkins. For those patients, fecal transplant becomes an option.

First, you have to find someone willing to donate. Potential donors are thoroughly screened, including testing for hepatitis, HIV, parasites, and other infectious pathogens.

The procedure itself is usually performed by colonoscopy.

“Right now fecal transplants are used as the treatment of last resort, but their effectiveness raises an important question: When will doctors start prescribing them, or some derivative, first?” said Bordenstein.

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69 comments

John B
John B1 years ago

Thanks Ann for sharing the interesting info.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Beverley F.
Beverley F2 years ago

Well said Heidi. W.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Deborah S.
Deborab S2 years ago

C Diff is awful. People get really sick from it. It is in the air. If this helps someone, good luck to them.

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela2 years ago

Noted. But must agree with Heidi W.

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Heidi W.
Heidi W2 years ago

Really isn't there ANYONE at C2 who has the skills to write an ACCURATE and INFORMATIVE article on this matter? This procedure isn't new, it's done at many hospitals by gastro-enterlogists all over the world.
Second, the "author" makes it seem as if the "poo" is taken from one and immediately put into someone else without any processing at all. NO! It's not the "poo" that gets transplanted, it are it's ingredients such as good bacteria which are getting filtered from it.
For pete's sake C2, if you want to talk medical stuff, get a real MD to talk about it instead of the first best blogger who makes a joke of it.

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Regina M.
Regina M2 years ago

Being a fecal donor could potentially save someone's life. Just as important as blood and organ donation. 500,000 American are affected by C. difficle each year, 30 thousand patients die. 1 in 5 patients with C. difficle do not respond to antibiotics, introducing healthy bacteria through a fecal transplant has over a 90% cure rate.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

noted

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Maxine Stopfer
Maxine Stopfer2 years ago

I heard of this some time ago but since I am extremely healthy with regular movements didn't really pay much attention to it. Don't think I would ever be interested in being a donor though.

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