Not quite five years ago, Stephen Freeman, MD, stood in an endoscopy suite at University of Colorado Hospital, ready to perform a colonoscopy. The seemingly routine procedure was anything but.
Freeman’s patient suffered from severe intestinal problems caused by a recurring Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. She’d gone through multiple courses of antibiotics with only temporary relief from severe diarrhea. At her request – really a demand – Freeman had taken stool material donated by her husband, screened it for safety and prepared a liquid that he injected into her upper large intestine.
The fecal transplant aimed to restore a healthy bacterial balance in the patient’s gut, where toxin-producing C. diff bacteria had overwhelmed other flora. Within a day or two, the balance of bacterial power shifted. The “good” bacteria from the transplanted fecal material overwhelmed the C. diff, and Freeman’s patient got relief from the symptoms that had long plagued her.