Is one woman’s obesity the result of a fecal transplant from an overweight donor? Recently, the Inquisitr explained that one fecal transplant non-profit organization pays great money for donation of healthy feces, but they only accept about four percent of all donors into the program. Donors are required to pass extensive testing and screening before donating their stools. The idea behind fecal transplants is to reset the gut flora of people who have severe imbalances and generally recurrent infections of the bacteria Clostridium difficile.
One recent case report about a fecal transplant might explain why the screening process for fecal transplant donors may be so important. The authors of the report published in the medical journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases say that a woman had been treated with a fecal transplant for recurrent C. difficile infections and then “rapidly gained 34 pounds in the 16 months after the procedure” leading to obesity, according to Medical News Today. The authors of the report say that the fecal transplant sample had come from an overweight donor.
It’s pointed out that the infection the woman suffered from can cause diarrhea and loss of appetite, among other painful symptoms, but the 32-year-old patient who received her fecal transplant in 2011 had never been overweight before. Her donor for the fecal transplant was her 16-year-old daughter. Her daughter was considered healthy, but overweight. The patient’s daughter was 140 pounds at the time of the fecal transplant, but eventually, she gained weight and weighed 170 pounds.
Within 16 months, the fecal transplant patient gained 34 pounds despite an exercise program and the addition of a supervised diet. Weighing 170 pounds, the woman was classified as obese. Three years after her fecal transplant, she has still been unable to overcome her obesity and weighs 177 pounds with a BMI of 34.5, according to BBC News.
“FMT has not been studied in large-scale controlled trials, and we have much to learn about the effects of this treatment beyond the intended restoration of a diverse microbiota,” Drs. Ana Weil and Elizabeth Hohmann from Massachusetts General Hospital stressed in an editorial linked to the case report. “Careful study of FMT will advance knowledge about safe manipulation of the gut microbiota. Ultimately, of course, it is hoped that FMT studies will lead to identification of defined mixtures of beneficial bacteria that can be cultured, manufactured and administered to improve human health.”
The fecal transplant case report shows the importance of donor screening, but also raises questions about the nature of obesity as well.
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