Patient’s Death After Fecal Transplant Highlights the Dangers of DIY Treatments

Patient’s Death After Fecal Transplant Highlights the Dangers of DIY Treatments

At-home fecal transplant set up

In its safety alert, the FDA outlined how two patients with compromised immune system received fecal microbiota for transplantation (FMT) during a clinical trial. The donor stool used for the transplant was not properly screened for harmful drug-resistant organisms prior to the procedure. Both patients became sick after getting an E.coli infection from the same donor stool and one patient died. The FDA was alerted to the death after researchers reported the death as required. A test of the donor stool revealed the same strand of E.coli that caused the infection in both participants.‘ data-reactid=”23″>In its safety alert, the FDA outlined how two patients with compromised immune system received fecal microbiota for transplantation (FMT) during a clinical trial. The donor stool used for the transplant was not properly screened for harmful drug-resistant organisms prior to the procedure. Both patients became sick after getting an E.coli infection from the same donor stool and one patient died. The FDA was alerted to the death after researchers reported the death as required. A test of the donor stool revealed the same strand of E.coli that caused the infection in both participants.

The FDA also reminded experts of its guidelines for conducting fecal transplants in investigative clinical trials, which should include thorough screening donor samples for multi-drug resistance organisms. According to the New York Times, as a result of the patient’s death, the FDA has also shut down a number of clinical trials involving fecal transplants until researchers can prove they have appropriate safety screening procedures in place. ‘ data-reactid=”25″>The FDA also reminded experts of its guidelines for conducting fecal transplants in investigative clinical trials, which should include thorough screening donor samples for multi-drug resistance organisms. According to the New York Times, as a result of the patient’s death, the FDA has also shut down a number of clinical trials involving fecal transplants until researchers can prove they have appropriate safety screening procedures in place.

The best evidence for the use of fecal transplants is treating antibiotic-resistant C.difficile, a bacteria that causes a GI infection (colitis) that most often leads to diarrhea, stomach pain, and fevers. In the case of a resistant C.difficile infection, fecal transplant may be an option for patients who have not responded to three available antibiotics to treat it. Most doctors who do fecal transplants will only use it as a last resort for patients with antibiotic-resistant C.difficile, following current FDA guidelines. ‘ data-reactid=”27″>The best evidence for the use of fecal transplants is treating antibiotic-resistant C.difficile, a bacteria that causes a GI infection (colitis) that most often leads to diarrhea, stomach pain, and fevers. In the case of a resistant C.difficile infection, fecal transplant may be an option for patients who have not responded to three available antibiotics to treat it. Most doctors who do fecal transplants will only use it as a last resort for patients with antibiotic-resistant C.difficile, following current FDA guidelines.

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Though research on using fecal transplants for other health conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) show promise in some early studies, more research is needed. Interest in fecal transplants has also extended into more unexpected realms, like autism. The FDA considers these other areas of research experimental. To get around the FDA, many DIYers looking for relief have created instructional materials online on how to do a fecal transplant at home. ” data-reactid=”29″>Though research on using fecal transplants for other health conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) show promise in some early studies, more research is needed. Interest in fecal transplants has also extended into more unexpected realms, like autism. The FDA considers these other areas of research experimental. To get around the FDA, many DIYers looking for relief have created instructional materials online on how to do a fecal transplant at home.

DIY fecal transplants have also been suggested as a potential at-home “cure” for autism. Though some questionable evidence might support this claim, it does not take into account significant safety concerns. At-home fecal transplants join other harmful practices spread online like consuming chlorine dioxide — aka industrial bleach. Amazon recently removed books marketing this dangerous practice. There is no scientific evidence either procedure benefits people on the spectrum, but there is a well-documented body of research that indicates trying to DIY medical treatment can cause serious digestive symptoms or death. ‘ data-reactid=”31″>DIY fecal transplants have also been suggested as a potential at-home “cure” for autism. Though some questionable evidence might support this claim, it does not take into account significant safety concerns. At-home fecal transplants join other harmful practices spread online like consuming chlorine dioxide — aka industrial bleach. Amazon recently removed books marketing this dangerous practice. There is no scientific evidence either procedure benefits people on the spectrum, but there is a well-documented body of research that indicates trying to DIY medical treatment can cause serious digestive symptoms or death.

In addition, viewing autism within the medical model — a model that tries to “fix” what’s “wrong” — doesn’t work. Autism is a neurodiverse way of being human — there is nothing to “cure” or “fix.” Unlike many of the “medical” treatments targeted at autism, neurodiversity does have scientific backing. This means autism acceptance — honoring the different ways people show up in the world — is a more productive, safe, and supportive approach. ‘ data-reactid=”33″>In addition, viewing autism within the medical model — a model that tries to “fix” what’s “wrong” — doesn’t work. Autism is a neurodiverse way of being human — there is nothing to “cure” or “fix.” Unlike many of the “medical” treatments targeted at autism, neurodiversity does have scientific backing. This means autism acceptance — honoring the different ways people show up in the world — is a more productive, safe, and supportive approach. 

If you have questions about fecal transplants and how they may benefit your health, Makhani recommends reaching out to a gastroenterologist in lieu of risky at-home medical procedures. In light of the recent patient’s death, the FDA said more work needs to be done before it will expand the use of fecal transplants in research and clinical practice. According to the FDA, informing patients about the risks is the first step. ‘ data-reactid=”37″>If you have questions about fecal transplants and how they may benefit your health, Makhani recommends reaching out to a gastroenterologist in lieu of risky at-home medical procedures. In light of the recent patient’s death, the FDA said more work needs to be done before it will expand the use of fecal transplants in research and clinical practice. According to the FDA, informing patients about the risks is the first step.

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