This week in “Disgusting And Interesting”: did you know that fecal transplants are a real thing? You might wanna stop eating whatever it is you’re eating and take a gander at the science and techniques of transferring those toilet nuggets for a good cause. You know… for shits and giggles.
A Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) also known as a stool transplant is the process of transplanting fecal bacteria from a healthy individual into a recipient. It has been used in many medical instances in recent years to combat the effects of and/or cure illnesses and infections like Clostridium difficile (C. diff or CDI), ulcerative colitis, and autoimmune and neurological conditions.
FMT involves introducing healthy bacterial flora through infusion of stool by enema, orogastric tube or orally in the form of a capsule containing freeze-dried material. Now that’s some cold shit right there.
*a side note: maybe this is how we will eat food in the future?
A particularly feel-good story made the news rounds last year in which a 4-year-old Georgia girl named Avery Lee was diagnosed with CDI in January of 2014. The infection, which at its most mild can cause abdominal pain and at its worst can lead to death, was caused when little Avery’s body was wracked by life-threatening infections after a seemingly harmless antibiotics treatment. Doctors in Atlanta were able to perform the FMT, the first one in Georgia’s history according to Klatz, and were able to bring Avery’s life back to the norm.
In a most dramatic gesture Avery’s father, John Lee, had this to say, “If we didn’t get a transplant, she was going to die.”
FMT is rapidly growing in prominence in North America and Europe, due in part to the rise in CDI (you know that whole “rather than treat the cause we go straight to the symptoms” thing). The website The Power Of Poop even has a do-it-yourself tutorial if you want to try and take advantage of an FMT in the comfort of your own smelly, little home; necessary disclaimers included.
But, after everything you read, one could come to the conclusion that an FMT is only really needed for people suffering from the above stated conditions, and for the most part you would be correct, but there are cases of gestational tract issues being purportedly cured through an FMT. So there’s that mental nugget.
Even more interesting/disgusting, in 2012 a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded OpenBiome, the first public stool bank in the United States, that provides clinicians with frozen, ready-to-administer stool samples for use in treating CID, and supports clinical research into the use of FMT for other conditions.