One Person’s Poop is Another Person’s Prescription
From Sarah Pope from
One of the most heart-rending emails that caught me off guard landed in my inbox last Spring. The email detailed a woman’s arduous struggles attempting to reclaim her gut health to no avail. As a last ditch effort, she wanted to try an at-home fecal transplant, but had no healthy relatives or friends from whom to get a donated poop sample.
For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with fecal transplants, they are a procedure that is gaining rapid and widespread popularity in conventional medicine due to the nearly 100% success rate they promise for those with intractable, life altering gut problems or infections such as the superbug known as C-diff. Since having a hospital perform the procedure is very expensive and many times not covered by insurance, lay people have developed a DIY approach which is specifically what this lady was emailing about.
You can imagine my shock when I read further down the email to where the lady asked if she could purchase a stool sample from one of my children since they had been born naturally, breastfed for 2+ years, never been on antibiotics and raised on a traditional diet. I literally teared up when I read this message!
It is so tragic how sick many people have become today as a result of the industrialized food system, routine antibiotics and other gut flora altering drugs prescribed like candy at doctors’ offices.
Needless to say, I was unable to help this poor woman out with that request. But, one of my children was quick to notice a business opportunity when I mentioned the email to them (not over dinner!). He said, “Mom, someone needs to start a company that takes people’s poop and stores it for others who need it.”
As it turns out, there is now a company that does exactly that.
The company OpenBiome is the very first and, as of this writing, the only independent stool bank in the country. Mark Smith, an MIT postdoctoral associate, launched the nonprofit in 2012 in Medford, Massachusetts and describes his operation as similar to “a blood bank, but for poop.”