Kelly Poole can laugh about it now. But an oral fecal transplant literally saved her life.
“I was a little taken aback,” says Poole. “i mean i was aware of the process. I just wasn’t prepared, that we were going to go there so quickly.”
Her story starts in the fall of 2017 when she came down with severe cramping and diarrhea. She was prescribed antibiotics, and she noticed while she was on the medicine, her symptoms subsided. Then when she went off, the symptoms came back. Eventually a doctor figured out what was wrong.
“He said,” says Poole, “I bet you have C diff. He knew almost immediately. He had seen an increase in this with antibiotic users.”
After two months of suffering, she was referred to Dr. Monika Fischer at IU Health. Dr Fischer recommended Kelly try an oral fecal transplant.
“We only use healthy donors, who don’t have any infections or pathogen organism,” says Dr. Fischer. “They are really well screened donors.”
IU Health is part of a study of oral fecal transplantations. Sixty patients have been treated as part of this study at IU, over a two year period. So Kelly arrived at IU Health, and in a small room, swallowed 30 blue capsules containing fresh fecal matter, which had been frozen. She took the capsules with water over a seven minute period and managed to keep them down. By the next day, she noticed a change in her bowel habits.
“The next day I got up,” says Poole. “And went to the bathroom and it was like nothing was ever wrong. It was completely normal. It was awesome after being that sick for so long.”
Dr. Fischer says the donor fecal material carries healthy bacteria to the colon, which is then able to fight the C diff.
“Once these bacteria, There are also viruses, reach the colon, they are essentially a very healthy village, a strong community of microbiota. And they establish themselves in the colon,” says Dr. Fischer.
Ingesting fecal matter is not necessarily poisonous, according to Dr Fischer. It’s when e coli gets into the blood stream, problems start. Openbiome, in the boston area, is the source for the fecal material. They serve over one thousand hospitals. Dr. Fischer says a new study, which will require much fewer capsules for the patient to swallow, will start this summer. She is hoping the results will end with an FDA approval.
For more on oral fecal transplants click on the link below.