What Is A Fecal Microbiota Transplant?

In 1958, Chief of Surgery at Denver General Hospital, Dr Ben Eiseman, reported in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology of four patients who were cured of pseudomembraneous colitis. Enemas containing feces from healthy colons successfully replenished good digestive bacteria. Pseudomenbranous is a painful, extremely debilitating and potentially fatal inflammation of the colon associated with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.

In the mid 1980s, Australian gastroenterologist, Professor Thomas Borody, who invented the triple antibiotic therapy for helicobacter pylori bacterium (the cause of stomach ulcers), was faced with one of the most difficult cases he had seen at that time. His patient was a woman who had developed an incurable colitis through an unidentifiable pathogen after holidaying in Fiji.

He searched medical literature for alternative treatments and came across the paper which was published in 1958 by Dr Eiseman. "So I looked at the method and I kind of made up the rest of it," Borody said. 

The woman's brother donated stool which was screened for known pathogens. Using a blender, and mixed with some brine (nowdays he uses normal saline) Professor Borody made a slush which he filtered to remove any solids.

He administered it to his patient by enema on two consecutive days. The results were incredible and her colitis was gone within days! It never returned!

The cure rate for c-diff according to Professor Borody of The Centre for Digestive Diseases, Five Dock, Sydney Australia is around 95% after the first transplant and close to 100% for the second for treating c-diff.  He has used fecal transplant extensively since the 1980s. C-diff kills around 14,000 Americans each year and many more than that world-wide.

So, basically fecal (faecal) microbiota transplantation, poo, poop or stool transplants, or whatever name you call the fascinatingly magnificent (forget the gross stuff for a moment!) waste , is when a fresh stool from a healthy donor who has been screened for various diseases is transplanted by either conoloscopy or enema into a sick recipient (naso-gastric tube has been used too, but has not been quite as successful as via the bottom route ;-) . 

Fecal Microbiota Transplant has also been reported to reverse Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Acne, Obesity and Diabetes Type 2.  Some of which appear to take far longer than two treatments, but nevertheless, extremely exciting for the future of medicine and for those who are so inflicted.

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth Stockstrom Van DykeDecember 2, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    I knew Dr. Ben Eiseman when he was a teen ager in St. Louis. We attended the same elementary and high school, which were the first progressive schools in St.Louis, begun in the 1920s. Ben's parents were instrumental in getting the schools established. I think his creative approach to medicine owes a lot to the freedom of thought encouraged by these schools.


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