Success Story: Woman Cures Ulcerative Colitis with Over 100 Stool Transplants – Insights on Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Success Story: Woman Cures Ulcerative Colitis with Over 100 Stool Transplants – Insights on Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Saffron Cassaday, a 36-year-old woman, has been living with ulcerative colitis for the past 15 years. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. Cassaday describes the condition as an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the colon, resulting in significant pain. One of the most debilitating symptoms of ulcerative colitis is the sudden and urgent need to have a bowel movement, which has severely impacted Cassaday’s daily life. She shares that certain situations, such as traffic jams or being on an airplane, would trigger panic due to the fear of not being able to find a bathroom in time. This fear and embarrassment associated with her condition even made her afraid to leave her house at times.

Cassaday had been taking medications to manage her condition, but over time, they became less effective. Feeling desperate, she read an article about a man with Crohn’s disease who had tried a treatment called fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which involves transferring healthy microbes and bacteria from a screened donor to a patient via an enema. Intrigued by the potential benefits, she began researching clinical trials for FMT in the treatment of IBD and other conditions. However, she faced a roadblock as the treatment was not FDA-approved for ulcerative colitis, and she couldn’t find a doctor willing to help her. Despite the risks, Cassaday decided to take matters into her own hands and attempt FMT at home using her healthy partner’s stool as a donor.

Cassaday’s journey, including her experience with DIY FMT and her subsequent improvement, is documented in her new film, Designer S***. After performing over 100 fecal transfers over two years and becoming pregnant (which can put autoimmune diseases into remission), Cassaday is now symptom-free and feels like she has regained her life.

Fecal microbiota transplantation, also known as intestinal microbiota transplant (IMT), involves transferring a donor’s healthy microbiota to restore the intestinal microbiome of the recipient. It has already been proven effective in treating Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in the colon. In fact, stool transplants have become the standard of care for patients with recurrent C. diff infections, boasting a cure rate of nearly 90%. There is even an encapsulated pill form of FMT available for C. diff prevention.

However, FMT’s effectiveness in treating ulcerative colitis is not as high. Approximately 25% of people with ulcerative colitis experience improvement with FMT, while 10% show improvement with a placebo. Clinical trials are being conducted to explore FMT’s potential in various conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, liver diseases, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, allergic conditions, and hair loss. While doctors are hopeful about FMT, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and potential risks.

Speaking of risks, DIY FMT, like what Cassaday attempted, is strongly discouraged by medical professionals. When performed in a clinical setting, the procedure is considered safe and well-tolerated, with rare serious side effects. However, there is a risk of infection if the donor is not properly screened for bacteria and viruses.

For those interested in FMT beyond C. diff treatment, participating in a clinical trial is the recommended route. This ensures that the procedure is conducted in a safe and controlled environment, minimizing potential harm to patients.

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