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Should You Bank Your Own Poop?

(Photo: Michaelwalk)

Now no one is proposing that you do this on your own at home. Forget those DIY videos on YouTube. Fecal transplants are a task that you should leave to professionals. Fortunately, there's a such a thriving market for top-shelf poop (and the precious bacteria in them) that you can make money at poop banks. You can receive fecal transplants orally now and even receive donations from your spouse.

But there's no poop like your own. That's why some doctors are suggesting that patients bank their own poop so that when they need a fecal bacteria transplant, they've got their very own immediately available. Jesse Jacobs writes for the New York Times:

The scientific term for this is “autologous fecal transplant.” In theory, it could work like a system reboot disk works for your computer. You’d freeze your feces, which are roughly half microbes, and when your microbiome became corrupted or was depleted with antimicrobials, you could “reinstall” it from a backup copy. […]

As currently practiced, however, the transplant material usually comes from someone else. Even with careful screening, that presents some risk. It’s theoretically safer to receive one’s own microbes. North York General Hospital in Toronto recently completed a pilot study banking incoming patients’ own stool. Should any of these patients develop infections after antibiotics, their own microbes were on hand for reconstitution.

None fell sick in this case, so the transplants weren’t needed. But the project proved feasibility, and achieved a processing time — gathering, blending and freezing — of less than one hour.

-via Glenn Reynolds


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