Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yes, Fecal Transplants: This *!^# Saves Lives!

By Theresa Tamkins

Salmonella-contaminated tomatoes. E. coli-riddled beef. These are just two recent outbreaks that have made headlines and basically ruined carefree burger-eating for the rest of the summer. Bacteria-laden feces are the probable source of both.
But sometimes a stool can save a life. I know, yeccccccchhhhhh, but it turns out that doctors can actually transfer fecal material from a healthy donor to patients sick with C. difficile, a potentially life-threatening germ that strikes when antibiotics kill off the good bacteria that live in the gut. It’s called a fecal transplant or fecal bacteriotherapy.
A friend who works at a hospital recently told me (without revealing the patient’s identity or personal information) that such a transplant had saved a patient’s life. My thought was: Why hadn’t I heard about this therapy before?
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