As humans learn more and more about how their bodies work, scientists have become fascinated with the role bacteria plays in our health and well-being.
Research into the human microbiome and advancements from that will dominant the next decade. Already known, though, is that fecal transplants can help people who have a dearth of good bacteria regenerate it. That’s right. Unlike what your mother taught you after she caught you, eating poo can be really, really good for you. From an awesome article by Fox 4:
A hundred trillion bacteria live inside your gut, some good, some bad. When patients take antibiotics for infections, sometimes they fail to work; good bacteria gets killed off while bad bacteria — C. difficile — grows unchecked.
The life-saving bacteria from the guts of [healthy] people … can help. When their healthy microbes are placed inside the intestines of a sick person they can chase out harmful C. difficile bacteria. It’s called a fecal transplant. The treatments are administered bottom-up, through a colonoscopy, or top-down, through a tube in the nose.
But just not any old dumps. You can’t walk down to the local Venezuelan joint and follow the dude who ate the most arepas into the john.
No, you gotta get special good fancy poo. Thankfully, people seek that shit out. Like a company called OpenBiome, and one of their top dumpers, Eric.
Meet Eric, who leaves his job every day to shit at OpenBiome.
Eric hangs a plastic collection bucket down inside the toilet bowl and does his business. When he’s finished, he puts a lid on the container, bags it up and walks his stool a few doors down the hall to OpenBiome, a small laboratory northwest of Boston that has developed a way to turn poop from extremely healthy people into medicine for really sick patients.
Then someone judges his present.
A lab technician weighs Eric’s “sample.” Over the past 2½ months, Eric has generated 10.6 pounds of poop over 29 visits, enough feces to produce 133 treatments for patients suffering from Clostridium difficile, an infection that kills 15,000 Americans a year and sickens half a million.
To donate, Eric had to pass a 109-point clinical assessment. There is a laundry list of factors that would disqualify a donor: obesity, illicit drug use, antibiotic use, travel to regions with high risk of contracting diseases, even recent tattoos. His stools and blood also had to clear a battery of laboratory screenings to make sure he didn’t have any infections.
And that, unlike most people’s poop, makes Eric’s worth money. OpenBiome pays its 22 active donors $40 per sample. They’re encouraged to donate often, every day if they can. Eric has earned about $1,000.
Sometimes Eric’s poops aren’t good enough.
The perfect poop is type three, which is “like a sausage but with cracks on its surface;” type four, which is “like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft;” or type five, “soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”
“It’s actually an established medical chart,” Kim says with a chuckle. “It’s very important.”
Maybe it was the hot sauce he used on his quinoa and cheddar cheese casserole last night, or the banana and peanut butter he ate with a bowl of bran flakes and almond milk for breakfast, but Eric’s stool is type five, just barely acceptable for processing.
Fucking Eric, man. Stop taking such shitty dumps. His best ones, though, have done great things.
OpenBiome’s poop donors have created about 5,000 treatments, and the organization says the results have been stunning. Stinky human waste is an astonishingly simple cure: 90% of the patients get better.
On average, one stool donation fills four, but today Eric’s impressive half-pound sample fills seven. One bottle equals one treatment.
Good job, Eric! Read the whole gem of an article here. Then maybe go donate some of your doo. You were gonna dump it out anyway.