Despite the FDA’s ban, one Florida clinic is using a controversial “poop transplant” procedure to help treat people with various medical conditions, sources say. Earlier this week, Buzzfeed reported that an unnamed clinic in Florida has been performing this strange transplant for patients around the country.
According to the Fecal Transplant Foundation, a poop transplant (also known as Fecal Microbiota Transplants) is a procedure in which “fecal matter, or stool, is collected from a tested donor, mixed with a saline or other solution, strained, and placed in a patient, by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or enema.”
Essentially, the transplant uses someone else’s feces and transplants them into the colon of another person in order to replenish “good bacteria” that has been killed by antibiotics. When antibiotics are used in patients Clostridium difficile (also known as C. diff.) invades the colon and in turn, can cause debilitating and sometimes even fatal diarrhea.
The FDA only approves the transplant procedure for patients who have C. diff as it is proven to work in those cases. But research is currently being done in order to see if the transplant can treat other various diseases such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, and even HIV — which the FDA does not yet approve the procedure for.
Dr. Roland David Shepard, who works at the Florida clinic, told Buzzfeed that performing poop transplants is the most rewarding part of his profession.
“Some of the people who come in are gray — they look like skeletons. If you see them again a month later they’re totally different people, with a smile on their face. It doesn’t take too many of those to see why we do this,” he said.
Due to FDA rules and regulations, Shepard’s clinic in Florida will only perform the transplant on patients who have C. diff, but they’ve found a loophole. Though the clinic does not perform the poop transplant procedure on patients without C. diff themselves, they do offer tutorials so patients are able to do the poop transplants at their own homes, without having to go under anesthesia. And since they’re not technically performing the procedure, Shepard says that they are not violating any FDA rules.
“The main thing is that we’re teaching, behind the door, we’re teaching,” Shepard argues.
Patients with C. diff will pay around $675 plus endoscopy fees for the colonoscopy procedure. On the flip side, three tutorials at the Florida clinic will set patients back around $1,000.
One study has tested children with autism to see if the fecal transplant would have positive effects on their digestive tracks. Not only did the study show that the children who received poop transplants on a daily basis were less likely to suffer from issues like constipation and indigestion — it also showed that these children showed improvements in their social and communication skills.
But the procedure does not come without risks. Doctors do not yet know the long-term effects that the transplant can have on patients. Also, poop donations from an unscreened donor could carry hepatitis or gonorrhea, thus transmitting these diseases into the patient.
Would you try this controversial procedure to see if it would help your digestive system?
[Featured Image by Steven Senne/AP Images]