A side effect of donating blood is the self-satisfaction in knowing that you’ve done your duty to help save a life. The whole process only takes about 15 minutes and you’re rewarded with a juice box and free cookies. While giving blood is super important—and always will be—if you really want to go the extra mile, you should consider donating your poop for use in fecal transplants, too.
According to a new report published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, “super-donors” are those whose microbiomes are swarming with good bacteria—ideal candidates to provide material for fecal transplants. With the help of these super poopers, doctors are working to eradicate irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, type 2 diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.
Wondering what makes poop can so powerful? By now you’ve probably heard rumblings that the microbiome—a highly complex ecosystem of microbes living throughout the body—is the key to, well, everything. Too much bad bacteria can result in inflammation, which manifests in a variety of ways. In many cases, where antibiotics have failed, fecal microbiota transplantation has found success. “We know already that changes to the gut microbiome can contribute to disease, based on studies in germ-free mice as well as clinical improvement in human patients following restoration of the gut microbiome by transplanting stool from a healthy donor,” says senior author of the study Justin O’Sullivan, PhD. In fact, a fecal transplant has helped cure recurrent diarrheal infection more than 90 percent of the time—not too shabby! (Trials for IBS and diabetes, however, produced a lower success rate of about 20 percent.)
To participate in fecal transplantation, donors must meet a series of requirements to ensure their sample will be suitable for donation. A blood test and initial stool test is standard. Once approved, donors give their, um, donation by scooping a small piece of poop into a test tube. (Don’t worry, you’ll be provided with a little pooper scooper.) The lucky recipient of your donation typically receives the transplant via colonoscopy.
Talk about flushing away disease. (Sorry, not sorry!)
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