Australia’s first public stool bank is paying people to donate their poo for faecal transplants
Kristy Wildy did not know she could get paid for donating her poo, but it was an unexpected bonus for the 55-year-old who has been contributing for the past 12 months.
Ms Wildy has been a blood donor for years, and she said donating her stool was a no-brainer.
“I wanted to become a donor because I thought I was a fairly healthy person and I would have something to contribute,” she said.
Ms Wildy donates about three or four times a week and said the process was quick and easy.
She said the $25-per-donation payment was a bonus and could be lucrative, depending on donation rates.
“The fact that it works so well, it’s so quick and the effects are so long-lasting, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can help’.”
Ms Wildy goes to BiomeBank, Australia’s first public stool bank at their newly expanded lab in the inner-western Adelaide suburb of Thebarton to donate her stool.
BiomeBank is funded by the Hospital Research Foundation and processes and stores healthy stool so it can be distributed to hospitals around the country and overseas.
A poo transplant saved my life
Jo O’Brien’s life was turned upside down in 2018 when she contracted a Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection.
It was brought on by a spate of illnesses which required high doses of antibiotics that wiped out her good gut bacteria.
“Over the course of two years, I had in between 30 and 40 lots of antibiotics. I had a really bad couple of years, I had pneumonia, chest infections and a tooth abscess,” Ms O’Brien said.
“So, to treat myself, I went to Bali on a yoga retreat … but unfortunately, that’s where I contracted C. diff … I was weak and had no good stomach bacteria left.”
Leading a normal life became nearly impossible for Ms O’Brien.
Ms O’Brien said she only ate twice a week to avoid using the bathroom, and she slept in a separate bed to her husband, on a picnic blanket with a rubber back.
“I would sit on a towel in the car and had an emergency pack of clothes in the car, with wet wipes, paper towels, everything,” she said.
Ms O’Brien became reclusive and her mental health deteriorated.
“I used to exercise a lot, but I couldn’t even go for a walk, because I had to chart where the toilets were,” she said.
“I became a homebody … my socialisation was down … I didn’t really see many people.”
Ms O’Brien said her life was so unbearable, that when her gastroenterologist, Dr Costello, suggested a poo transplant, she did not think twice.
“I would do anything to get better,” she said.
“People tend to laugh when you say things like, ‘Oh, I’m having a poo transplant’, but for me, it was the very last resort.”
Ms O’Brien said three days after having the FMT she felt normal again.
“I went to the pub for tea … and I didn’t take a change of clothes,” she said.