Yes, it’s the age of poop transplants. I first heard about them on Grey’s Anatomy, and maybe that TV debut is what really got it started. But the reality is that fecal transplants are actually legitimate. They have been used in many different countries for many different issues, most gastrointestinal. They use the feces of someone who lives with them, eats with them, may even be closely related, to try to replace the intestinal flora with a healthier alternative, and there are some who say that it’s some kind of
miracle cure. Unfortunately, the FDA has found it to be a huge headache to say the least.
Frankly, fecal transplants are showing some real promise, especially for severe and hard to treat digestive and other related issues, including recurring C diff infections (that are generally drug resistant). One doctor who performs these transplants says,
We’re dealing with something that is pretty close to miraculous. One doctor’s opinion isn’t pushing the FDA forward at lightning speed though. They are treating these as an experimental drug, which means that it has to get the sign-off before it can really be researched.
The reality is that we’re talking about human feces here. We don’t know what could happen. We don’t even have an exact formula. Everybody’s excrement is different. Could there be nasty side effects, tired and impatient doctors who don’t screen the feces well enough (we’ve had this problem with blood donations before). Then again, many patients trying these transplants are already desperate and in pain. If the FDA doesn’t approve it, there’s nothing to stop people from going to sites like thepowerofpoop.com for DIY instructions.
Dr Michael Edmond of Virginia Commonwealth University, a doctor who has performed multiple fecal transplants for patients who have come from far and wide to Ohio says,
Some of these patients are very desperate and they’re not going to take no for an answer.
It puts the FDA, and individual practitioners, in a tough spot to say the least. So far, it sounds like the FDA is putting forth a good faith effort to try to get the research started as quickly as possible, but o course, there are no guarantees on time.