Via The Globe and Mail, a long and interesting article by Wendy Stueck: High hopes for fecal transplant treatment for C. difficile patients. Excerpt:
The patient was in her 80s and racked with diarrhea, her bowels teeming with toxin-spewing Clostridium difficile bacteria.
Several rounds of antibiotics had not worked, the woman was losing weight by the day, and her doctor, Jeanne Keegan-Henry, feared she would die. So Dr. Keegan-Henry went to the drugstore, bought a blender, labelled it “not for food” and used it to mix human feces and saline into a soupy solution she administered in a procedure known as a fecal transplant.
The treatment, given like an enema or via a tube down the throat, transfers feces from a healthy person into a sick one. It is thought to work by reintroducing “good” bacteria. Health Canada considers the therapy to be in the investigative stage, meaning it must be done in a clinical trial only. Dr. Keegan-Henry’s decision to use it that day in 2010 put her licence at risk.
The procedure worked as intended.
It was supposed to lead to a ground-breaking pilot project at the Fraser Health Authority that would attempt to save people who were close to death from the often untreatable C. difficile.
Instead, Fraser Health has abruptly backed off the plan to provide fecal transplants to patients at two hospitals in the region. The project was to begin this month, and donors and patients were being recruited.
But it was postponed indefinitely late on Friday afternoon after the health authority was informed by The Globe and Mail of comments from Health Canada in relation to the procedure.