BALTIMORE, MD (Ivanhoe Newswire) - It’s a serious infection that ravages the intestines. C-diff. hits about half a million Americans and is linked to more than 30,000 deaths each year in the U.S. However, there’s a breakthrough therapy that may make you cringe.
Ellen Blackwell was certain she wouldn’t live to see her daughter’s college diplomas.
"And I made attempts to put my affairs in order," Ellen told Ivanhoe.
Ellen had C-diff, an infection that caused severe diarrhea, fevers, pain, and cramping. She tried three different antibiotics; they all failed.
"There wasn’t anything after that," Ellen said.
But there was an unusual treatment she talked her doctor in to trying.
"She said to me, if you don’t do it, who else will do it?" Sudhir Dutta, M.D., Division Head of Gastroenterology at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore told Ivanhoe.
It was a fecal transplant. Basically – doctors use this scope to transplant feces from a healthy donor into the intestines of a patient with C-diff. It’s like a super probiotic: the infected patient’s bacteria becomes the healthy donor’s bacteria
"We have always tried to kill bad bacteria. In this one, we’re not killing them. We are just wiping them out by growing some healthy bacteria," Dr. Dutta said
Doctor Sudhir Dutta has performed 28 fecal transplants. 100% of his patients are off antibiotics. Ellen was his first patient and her daughter Catherine was her donor.
"It’s not like being a kidney donor. It’s not like I was losing something that I needed," said Catherine.
She says the unlikely donation from her daughter saved her life.
"That was really incredible. I mean, it was incredible!" Ellen said.
Fecal transplants are being used only on patients who do not respond to antibiotics. The donors are meticulously screened before the procedure. Researchers are now studying fecal transplants for other disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at firstname.lastname@example.org