Imagine being paid for your excreta. Well, for some Nigerians, it would appear like a dream that nothing can be better than. However for residents of Massachusetts, US, that dream is now a reality as they can make a modest living out of their own body functions by donating a sample of their excreta.
An independent non-profit stool bank called OpenBiome is willing to offer volunteers $40 per deposit. The stool samples will be used for fecal transplants, to fight the deadly superbug, Clostridium difficile.
The treatment has become more popular and people are being invited to generously donate their poo at the OpenBiome stool bank.
Stool transplants works as a miracle cure for Clostridiumdifficile, a bacterial infection that most commonly affects hospital patients. It causes fever, painful cramps, severe diarrhea, and in some cases, life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel.
Thankfully, stool transplants from healthy donors have worked wonders – especially when all other treatments, even antibiotics, have failed. It helps restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut, which are highly effective in fighting infections. If the treatment is successful, the patient starts to feel better almost immediately.
In order to be a donor, you need to be between 18 and 50 years of age, have regular bowel movements and be willing to make 30-minute trips every day to the Open Biome laboratory in Medford, Massachusetts.
At least four donations a week are mandatory, if you choose to register as a donor. If you come in five days a week, you could receive an extra $50.Prospective donors also receive $40 for getting tested – these tests include filling out a detailed medical questionnaire, having your stool tested for infections, and your blood tested for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Mark Smith, MIT postdoctoral associate in 2012, after he witnessed a family member suffer for 18 months before receiving a life-saving fecal transplant, founded OpenBiome. “Think of us as a blood bank, but for poop,” he explained. “You shouldn’t have to fly across the country to get poo.” OpenBiome works with gastroenterologists and other specialists to make sure stool samples are delivered to various towns and cities within a four-hour radius.
Smith also revealed that each 250-milligram stool sample is sold to hospitals and independent doctors for $250, and it can be used to treat up to five patients. “From the cost perspective, it’s a really effective treatment for patients who aren’t responding to antibiotics,” he explained. Fecal transplants can save, on average, $17,000 per patient when compared with antibiotic treatments.
The pills have successfully cured 18 out of 20 patients who took part in a study at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.In emergency situations, stools from a donor could also be mixed with saline solution and transferred by a tube through the patient’s nose, directly into the bowel. It might sound disturbing, but it is a safe and highly effective treatment that is known to save lives.
As wonderful as the treatment is, it is yet to be implemented worldwide. Smith says that this is because there are still a few challenges with how insurance companies reimburse it. “The real challenge is that right now it’s still categorized as an explorational drug by the FDA,” he said. “Until that changes, it’s really not going to find universal adoption.”
But when it finally does, it would be interesting to see how such a procedure works out in a place like Nigeria.Follow Us on Social Media