• Poo transplants: Could faecal donors give patients a new lease on life?
There are medical clinics all around Australia treating various problems but there's one clinic in particular that offers a very unusual treatment for its patients. The Feed's Andy Park finds out more about the clinic that pays people for their poo.
Airdate: 
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 19:30
Channel: 
SBS Two

It may not look like your regular morning delivery, but Jeff (not his real name) has an important package to deliver.
 
Every morning Jeff delivers his excrement to the back door of Sydney's Centre for Digestive Diseases. But while the thought of doing this might churn some stomachs, the truth is Jeff is helping to change lives by donating his stools for a procedure called Faecal Microbiota Transplantation or FMT and thousands of Australians are lining up for it.
 
"The things that I've been told about my bacteria, it's good bacteria," says Jeff. "I usually do try to watch my diet - processed food, I do try to keep away from it because not only it's not healthy for yourself but it could be not health for the patient."
 
"The good feeling about it is knowing you are helping someone else."
 
Jeff is screened regularly to make sure his samples are of the highest quality and he's been doing this every day for the last 12 years.
 
"Sometimes you do feel like oh, I didn't eat enough to produce or to make sure the person gets enough... so in some instances I might say to my wife give me a bit extra, I might need a bit extra tomorrow morning."

And those on the receiving end are glad that people like Jeff are donating their faeces.
 
George has flown in from Tasmania to have the FMT treatment from a renegade gastroenterologist Professor Thomas Borody.
 
"When I first heard about it I was a bit sceptical, getting someone else’s poo transferred into me," says George. "But once Professor Borody explained it all to me and I went over it, it's pretty straight forward."
 
George has Crohn’s disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel condition, as well as Clostridium Difficle or C Diff, which for him, has made living a normal life extremely difficult.

"The worst time would have been half way through 2012," says George. "I got stomach abscesses in my bowel...  Yeah, [I] nearly died actually."
 
"Stomach pains, constant diarrhoea when it's really bad, plus it also messes with your mind as well."
 
"It does get you a bit down, I'm not going to lie. [I] couldn't get a job for a couple of years because of it, when it was really bad. It kind of ruins your life in a way until you get it sorted out.”

About 70,000 Australians suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.

That number is expected to increase 23 per cent by 2020.
 
The deadly Clostridium Difficle or C diff infection is said to be often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, but 14 people in Victoria alone died from C diff over a 15-month period in 2010 and 2011.
 
The patients that receive the FMT treatment come from all over the world.
 
"They come along, they are so ill, they are minus 25 kilograms in weight, they can't walk up stairs because of muscle weakness, and we kill the Clostridium Difficle with two infusions," says Professor Thomas Borody. "I'm thinking of one person in particular who put on 40 kilograms in weight and he did the bridge climb three weeks later."
 
But mainstream acceptance of the procedure has been slow. Professor Borody says it took a while for even those in the medical field to accept his work.
 
"It was difficult for those who were watching from the outside to accept that what we are doing is actually medicine, in fact initially a member of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, a professor, criticised me as a charlatan."

Professor Borody even says FMT might soon come in the form of a pill and could even be useful in the fight against autism, obesity, Parkinson’s and MS.

"There's a lot of diverse areas where we are working that gut flori can reach and touch our body and make us ill," says Professor Borody. “The future of faecal transplantation is going to be a product, it will be a filtered, freeze dried powder in a capsule, and therefore you're going to have to multiple donors and there'll be a lot of anonymity."

For their part, the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) only conditionally support FMT.

“FMT is an unproven treatment, apart from [patients] with a recurrent C Diff infection,” said Katie Ellard, secretary of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.
 
Professor Borody's clinic has now performed more than 4,000 transplants and he says the language and acceptance of the procedure is changing.
 
"I always remember this patient that came to see me six weeks after her transplant [and] said doctor Borody 'Six weeks ago I had my transpoosion' and she was so serious you know, and I had to hold myself from laughing."
 
"In terms of the new language that has evolved around faecal transplantation, we've actually developed an encylopoodia to hold these names, it's a whole new form of therapootics."
 
And despite George making some visits to the bathroom in the hours following the treatment, he's already planning for the future.
 
"This is like a last little bit with the whole thing now so I'm really looking forward to it and getting on with my life," says George. “I want do a personal training course... looking forward to having a crack at that."

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