An Update on Fecal Transplants, and How The Procedure Helped One Sick Little Boy

Grant Fisher largeFecal microbiota transplants have been in the news again this week, thanks to a new study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The procedure is used to help people suffering from severe gastrointestinal problems, usually caused by a Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infection. Doctors take stools from a person with a healthy gut and turn it into a solution that can be “transplanted,” or sprayed directly into the sick person’s colon with a colonoscope. The idea is to repopulate the sick person’s gut with a mixture of bacteria that normally live there and keep us healthy.

Seeing all this news coverage, we’d feel, well, crappy if we didn’t repost the story of Grant Fisher, a toddler from Fon du Lac, Wisconsin, who received a fecal transplant from his mom, Autumn. He is one of the youngest children to receive the treatment, and is happy and healthy now. From Science Life:

The key moments may not have been quite as gripping as a heart or liver transplant, but this summer Grant Fisher of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, rapidly, almost miraculously, regained his health thanks to a profoundly personal and entirely biological donation from his mother.

On August 3, 2012, Fisher became the first child in the Midwest, one of the first five in the country, and, at 18 months old, possibly the youngest, to undergo FMT—fecal microbiota transplantation—also known, among other many less delicate names, as a stool transfer.

Grant and Autumn have since been featured in a story on their local TV station in Fon du Lac. WTTW here in Chicago also covered the story and spoke to Dr. Stacy Kahn, who treated Grant, as well as other researchers with the University of Chicago Medicine who study the impact of gut bacteria on overall health, Dr. Eugene Chang and Dr. Jack Gilbert. Dr. Kahn also spoke at length about the treatment in a Q and A.

We have a feeling much of the attention paid to this procedure is prurient, and we’re not above making a few puns about the gross factor ourselves. But it’s hard to argue against it when you see the effect it has on a kid like Grant.

About Matt Wood (443 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer for the University of Chicago Medicine and editor of the Science Life blog.

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