Do not read this while eating- Dr. David Hepburn

WARNING! You might want to place this article in your “I-Wished-I’d-Dropped-My-iPad-Into-the-Hole-of-One-of-Those-Porta- Potti-Things” file.

I am forever paying attention to the word “transplants.” But this is one time, like accidentally opening Brett Favre’s text message, that I wish I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t easy to revolt a doctor but this is so utterly repugnant that I really would like you all to share in my nausea, which, frankly, would be a far site better than sharing this particular transplant……feces. Yes, you heard correctly should your wife be reading this to you. She did not misread fleeces or fees please or fleas tease or freeze these or Jersey Shore.

Stool transplant. Not talking about a barstool, though that is probably where your keyster should be drooped over about now having availed yourself of the bar portion at least in order to continue reading about the stool portion.

Clostridium difficile is a bug that we doctors aren’t overly fond of, as opposed to ones we’re more partial to like ladybugs, butterflies and Latoya Jackson. Had we liked this bug we would have named it Clostridium facile or Clostridium Heidi Klum but no, we gave it a name like difficile to reflect the ease of which it is to deal with. A not uncommon colon infection, it has the potential to be diarrhea deadly in those who haven’t got a Prime A immune system. It is an opportunistic bug. Should a prolonged course of antibiotics happen to kill off the “friendly bowel flora” (which btw is a very cool name for a band or a child should you be raised in the wilds of Gabriola), then C. diff can overwhelm the colon kingdom.

C. diff - Dr. Dave Hepburn
C. diff – Dr. Dave Hepburn

Affecting primarily the elderly, this deadly beast is most often caught in hospitals or nursing homes. In fact, the longer your stay in hospital, the higher the risk of developing C. diff.  Cramping diarrhea with recent use of antibiotics (like Cipro), fever, and foul smelling stool (as opposed to the more common lilac/petunia fragrance), is an indication that C. diff has set up shop. Too much of this overgrowth and the body can go into shock. The bowel can even rupture, an event that has been known to ruin lunch at Zellers. Anti-diarrhea drugs can actually make it worse! Currently we treat C diff. with antibiotics, different ones than caused the problem in the first place. But this is not always terribly effective and can be very expensive.

So along comes fecal bacteriotherapy, known in some circles as… kindergarden. It involves infusion of fresh feces from a healthy donor into the hurtin’ bowel in order to reverse the bacterial imbalance responsible for the infection. The best choice for donor is a close relative who has been tested for a wide array of bacterial and parasitic agents and who is excellent at keeping secrets and avoids overindulgence in Lima beans.

Donor stool is collected in the AM and liquefied in your basic orange juice blender. (How about that for a slap chop commercial at a trade show. “ Folks, over here we have umm…well… a blender for your….well…your….poop. Umm…Ok on to the Sham Wow!”) The transplant is done via enemas and/or via an NG tube through the nose, and no… I am not kidding.

A modified form of fecal bacteriotherapy is being developed  which is more effective and easier to administer. A fecal sample, provided by the patient/victim before prolonged antibiotic treatment or hospitalization, is stored in a refrigerator, just behind the Limburger cheese. Should the patient subsequently develop C. difficile the sample is extracted, filtered, freeze dried and then formed into a capsule that can be taken orally with your Fred Flintstones. And just think of how proud if not vindicated the dog will feel as he watches you gulp down a poop pill, the ultimate probiotic.

stool transplant -Dr Dave Hepburn
stool transplant -Dr Dave Hepburn

Now there’s little doubt this treatment has a bit of an image problem, sort of the Kanye West of medicine. But this “transpoosition” may be something that saves your life because even though it is not being done everywhere just yet, it works and it works very well.

And most fascinatingly, some scientists feel that a disturbed gut flora might well be responsible for conditions like Parkinson’s, ulcerative colitis and even obesity. Furthermore, fecal transplant treatment apparently has shown a dramatic improvement in patients with so-called autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Very exciting stuff but it’s 2 AM and I’m poop…er…exhausted. So, before your husband or the dog reads this article….head to the Porta Potti.


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