Well Being

Fecal Transplant Saves Young Woman From Bacterial Infection

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fecal transplantKaitlin Hunter is only 20 years old, but she's already been through a life-threatening car accident that left her with a colon infection that was finally cured by a poop transplant from her mother.**

**No, she is not a character on last night's season premier of ‘Private Practice'.

She's real, and her story is true: A car accident in June last year left Hunter with a fractured lower spine, lacerated liver and colon, and 10 broken toes. After recovering from her other injuries, Hunter discovered that she'd been left with clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection in her colon caused by antibiotics used in her treatment. The infection can be life-threatening–CNN reports that the 5'7” girl got down to 85 pounds because of her inability to digest food properly, and she suffered diarrhea and vomiting throughout her battle with the disease.

To cure it, doctors decided to try a fecal transplant from her mother, which is exactly what it sounds like (and yes, it does also sound like something the writers of a medical drama would dream up). And voila! It cleared things right up. Apparently, clostridium difficile (also known as C. diff) happens when the colon is stripped of the healthy gut flora that normally occur and aid digestion by antibiotics, which allows other unhealthy bacteria to take over and infect the digestive system.

Most of us are able to keep the balance of good and bad bacteria in check by eating the right mix of high-fiber foods and probiotic-rich foods or supplements (yogurt–it's better than getting a fecal transplant!), but in cases of severe infection, doctors typically treat it with yet more antibiotics…in order to get the bad bacteria in check. After nine rounds of antibiotics with no success in eliminating her infection, doctors decided to try the fecal transplant, which is a very new procedure.

Doctors are excited about this treatment method, as trials have shown a 91% cure rate after just one transplant. And, aside form the “ick factor,” as some put it, we're pretty happy they're finding such a successful (and made-for-tv) cure.

Photo: Anderson Mancini